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Kenneth Pienta, MD

Department Affiliations Urology, Oncology, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
Rank Professor
Office Phone 410-502-3137
Lab Phone
Fax 410-955-0833
SOM Address 121 Marburg

Pienta Lab Page


Haley Axelrod 2013

Research Interests

Dr. Pienta’s laboratory focuses on defining the tumor microenvironment of prostate cancer metastases and the development of new therapies for prostate cancer. These insights have been used to identify novel targets for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, thus successfully moving bench research into the clinic in the form of Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. Currently, the lab operates under the hypothesis that there is an opportunity to devise new cancer therapies based on the recognition that tumors have properties of ecological systems. There has been an increasing recognition that the tumor microenvironment contains host non-cancer cells in addition to cancer cells, interacting in a dynamic fashion over time. The cancer cells compete and/or cooperate with nontumor cells, and the cancer cells may compete and/or cooperate with each other. The interaction of these cancer and host cells to remodel the normal host organ microenvironment may best be conceptualized as an evolving ecosystem. We have used microdevices to help design ecosystems to mimic organ niches, such as bone marrow, that cancer cells metastasize to. Describing tumors as these ecological systems defines new opportunities for novel cancer therapies.

Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta is the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology and Professor of Oncology and Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and currently serves as the Director of Research for the The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. He is a two-time American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award recipient. Dr. Pienta has an established peer-reviewed track record for organizing and administering a translational research program that successfully incorporates bench research, agent development, and clinical application. He has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed articles, has served as the Director of the Prostate Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) at The University of Michigan, and has led numerous local and national clinical trials. To date, Dr. Pienta has mentored more than 40 students, residents, and fellows to successful medical careers.


  • Taichman RS, Patel LR, Bedenis R, Wang J, Weidner S, Schumann T, Yumoto K, Berry JE, Shiozawa Y, Pienta KJ. GAS6 receptor status is associated with dormancy and bone metastatic tumor formation. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 24;8(4)
  • Jung Y, Shiozawa Y, Wang J, McGregor N, Dai J, Park SI, Berry JE, Havens AM, Joseph J, Kim JK, Patel L, Carmeliet P, Daignault S, Keller ET, McCauley LK, Pienta KJ, Taichman RS. Prevalence of prostate cancer metastases after intravenous inoculation provides clues into the molecular basis of dormancy in the bone marrow microenvironment. Neoplasia. 2012 May;14(5):429-39
  • Park SI, Liao J, Berry JE, Li X, Koh AJ, Michalski ME, Eber MR, Soki FN, Sadler D, Sud S, Tisdelle S, Daignault SD, Nemeth JA, Snyder LA, Wronski TJ, Pienta KJ, McCauley LK.  Cyclophosphamide creates a receptive microenvironment for prostate cancer skeletal metastasis. Cancer Res. 2012 May 15;72(10):2522-32.