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Kenneth James Pienta, M.D.

Director of Research, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute
Professor of Urology


Appointment Phone


Main Location

Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Call 410-464-6641 (8a.m. to 6p.m., EST, Mon-Fri)

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  • Director of Research, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute
  • Professor of Urology
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Centers & Institutes



Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964

401 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231 map
Phone: 410-955-8964

Contact for Research Inquiries

600 N. Wolfe Street
Marburg 121
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-502-3137
Fax: 410-955-0833


Medical Oncology

Research Interests

Novel therapeutic development; Biomarker development; Metastasis; Tumor microenvironment; Ecology of cancer


Dr. Kenneth Pienta is the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology and a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He also holds an appointment in the department of pharmacology and molecular sciences. He is an internationally recognized leader in prostate cancer research and translational science. Dr. Pienta serves as the director of research for the Brady Urological Institute.

Dr. Pienta has a proven, peer-reviewed track record in organizing and administering a translational research program that successfully incorporates bench research, agent development and clinical application. He has international expertise in the development of novel chemotherapeutic programs for prostate cancer and has championed the concept that translational research is often best accomplished by multi-disciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians. Under his direction, the success of these endeavors led to the receipt of the first annual American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2007.

Dr. Pienta received his B.A. in human biology from the Johns Hopkins University. He earned his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and performed a fellowship in oncology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Pienta was the associate vice president for research, health sciences for the University of the Michigan from 2012 to 2013 and director of precision medicine for the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology from 2008 to 2013. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2013.

Dr. Pienta''s research interests include the ecology of cancer, tumor microenvironment, metastasis, biomarker development and novel therapeutic development.

Dr. Pienta is a two-time American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award recipient. He holds several patents, has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed articles and has been the principle investigator on numerous local and national clinical trials. more

    Additional Information

  • Education +


    • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / MD (1986)


    • University of Chicago Hospitals / Internal Medicine (1988)


    • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Oncology (1991)


    • American Board of Internal Medicine / Medical Oncology (1991, 2011)
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Dr. Pienta's laboratory has championed the concept that cancer tumorigenesis and metastasis can best be understood utilizing the principles of ecology. Ecologists have studied the population biology of invasive species for decades and have documented their impact on local environments as well as the global ecosystem as a whole. Invasive species start as a native population within a defined community and are then transported by some means to a new environment. In this new environment, the invader either dies off or enters a period of time during which it establishes itself (lag period). It then begins to spread and have an impact on the local environment, disrupting the ecosystem as a whole. This disruption has broad implications for the native species and the broader ecosystem. Biologic traits that result in a robust invasive species include rapid proliferative capacity, adaptation to environmental stress (phenotypic plasticity) and high tolerance to environmental heterogeneity.

    The life cycle of invasive species is directly analogous to the study of cancer metastasis. Cancer must grow in a primary site, extravasate and survive in the circulation to then intravasate at a target organ (invasive species survival in transport). Cancer cells often lay dormant at their metastatic site for a long period of time (lag period) before proliferating (invasive spread). Proliferation in the new site has an impact on the target organ microenvironment (ecological impact) and eventually the human host (biosphere impact). Successful treatment of cancer with a single agent is rarely enough to cure a patient without strategically modifying the support systems conducive to survival of cancer. The Pienta laboratory works to develop new treatments for cancer utilizing network disruption.

    Selected Publications View all on PubMed

    1. Camacho DF, Pienta KJ. "A multi–targeted approach to treating bone metastases." Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2014 Jan 4.
    2. Stoyanova T, Cooper AR, Drake JM, Liu X, Armstrong AJ, Pienta KJ, Zhang H, Kohn DB, Huang J, Witte ON, Goldstein AS. "Prostate cancer originating in basal cells progresses to adenocarcinoma propagated by luminal–like cells." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013 Dec 10;110(50):20111–6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320565110. Epub 2013 Nov 26.
    3. Pienta KJ, Walia G, Simons JW, Soule HR. "Beyond the androgen receptor: New approaches to treating metastatic prostate cancer. Report of the 2013 Prouts Neck Prostate Cancer Meeting." Prostate. 2014 Feb;74(3):314–20. doi: 10.1002/pros.22753.
    4. Drake JM, Graham NA, Lee JK, Stoyanova T, Faltermeier CM, Sud S, Titz B, Huang J, Pienta KJ, Graeber TG, Witte ON. "Metastatic castration–resistant prostate cancer reveals intrapatient similarity and interpatient heterogeneity of therapeutic kinase targets." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013 Dec 3;110(49):E4762–9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1319948110. Epub 2013 Nov 18.
    5. Robinson DR, Wu YM, Vats P, Su F, Lonigro RJ, Cao X, Kalyana–Sundaram S, Wang R, Ning Y, Hodges L, Gursky A, Siddiqui J, Tomlins SA, Roychowdhury S, Pienta KJ, Kim SY, Roberts JS, Rae JM, Van Poznak CH, Hayes DF, Chugh R, Kunju LP, Talpaz M, Schott AF, Chinnaiyan AM. "Activating ESR1 mutations in hormone–resistant metastatic breast cancer." Nat Genet. 2013 Dec;45(12):1446–51. doi: 10.1038/ng.2823. Epub 2013 Nov 3.
  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +


    • Student Summer Research Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University , 1982 - 1983
    • Henry Strong Denison Scholar, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1983 - 1984
    • Student Scholar, American Urological Association, 1985
    • Alpha Omega Alpha, 1988
    • Clinical Investigator, The American Board of Internal Medicine, 1988 - 1992
    • Diplomat, The American Board of Internal Medicine, 1990
    • Research Award, Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate, 1993 - 1998
    • The Rena Schechter Memorial Lecturer in Cancer Research, Washington University School of Medicine, 1998
    • A Leading Faculty Educator, Department of Internal Medicine, 1999
    • Research Award, Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate, 1999 - 2003
    • Clinical Research Professorship Award, American Cancer Society, 2003
    • Research Award, Prostate Cancer Foundation, 2004 - 2008
    • American Society of Clinical Investigators, 2005
    • America's Top Doctors, 2005 - 2012
    • America's Top Doctors for Cancer, 2006 - 2012
    • Research Team Science Award, American Association for Cancer , 2007
    • Best Doctors in America, 2008 - 2012
    • Patients' Choice Award, 2008 - 2011
    • Core Values Award, Prostate Cancer Foundation , 2009
    • Distinguished Mentor of the Year Award, American Urological Association, 2009
    • "Who's Who in Healthcare, Montclair Who's Who, 2010 - 2011
    • Alfred Taubman Scholar Award, Taubman Medical Research Institute, 2011 - 2014
    • League of Research Excellence, University of Michigan Medical School, 2011
    • Society of Scholars, Johns Hopkins University, 2011
    • Top 1% of physicians, U.S. News and World Report, 2012
    • Who’s Who, Strathmore, 2012


    • American Association of Cancer Research, 1991
    • American Society of Clinical Oncologists, 1991
    • American Urologic Association, 1991
    • American College of Physicians, 1995
    • Society of Urologic Oncology, 2000
    • Society of Basic Urologic Research, 2004
    • American Society of Clinical Investigators, 2005
    • Metastasis Research Society, 2005
    • Central Society for Clinical Research, 2006
    • International Bone and Mineral Society, 2008
    • Society for Clinical and Translational Science, 2009
    • European Association for Cancer Research, 2012

    Professional Activities

    • Board of Directors, Curis, 2001
    • National Cancer Advisory Board, Frederick National Labs, 2012 - 2016
    • Co-Investigator, Princeton Physical Sciences Oncology Center, 2013
    • Editorial Board, CollabRx, 2013
      Prostate Cancer
  • Videos & Media +
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