Kenneth W. Kinzler, Ph.D.

Headshot of Kenneth W. Kinzler
  • Director, Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins University
  • Professor of Oncology

Research Interests

Molecular genetics of human cancer; APC and Other Genetic Alterations in Colon and Rectal Cancer Early Diagnosis of Cancer Experimental Therapeutics for Cancer Genetics of Cancer more


Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., is co-director of the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Barry Family Professor in Oncology.

He has been recognized for his role in uncovering the genetic alterations linked to the initiation of colon cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide; development of novel approaches for the molecular analysis of cancer; and more recently, for his role in deciphering the genetic blueprints of many types of cancer.

In the early 1990s, he led scientists in the identification and analysis of the APC gene, the most frequently mutated tumor suppressor gene in colon cancer. In the mid-1990s, he invented SAGE (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression), allowing the first comprehensive analysis of gene expression in human cancer and leading Kinzler to coin the term “transcriptome,” referring to genes that are transcribed at a particular point in time. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he invented digital PCR and other digital genomics approaches for the detection of trace levels of tumor DNA. In the late 2000s, Kinzler and Ludwig Center co-director Bert Vogelstein, M.D., led a team of scientists who decoded the genomes of many cancers, including breast, colon, pancreatic, brain, ovarian and liver. 

Ludwig Center scientists led by Kinzler and Vogelstein currently are focused on developing better methods for detecting cancer early, when it is most curable. Their efforts have led to discoveries in detecting DNA shed from tumors in blood and other body fluids, which were made possible by the digital genomic approaches using the techniques he previously discovered.

Kinzler, who is the associate director for laboratory research at the Kimmel Cancer Center, is consistently ranked among the most highly cited scientists in clinical medicine, according to industry analysts at Thomson Reuters. He has received the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science Alumni Award, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Sandoz Award for Superior Academic Achievement and Contribution to Health Care, the David Israel Macht Research Award, the National Cancer Institute’s Director’s Service Award, the inaugural National Brain Tumor Society Founders Award, the 2013 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the  2014 AACR Team Science Award for Brain Cancer Research. He was elected a fellow of the AACR Academy in 2014 and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences. more


  • Director, Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins University
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Genetic Medicine

Departments / Divisions

  • Genetic Medicine
  • Oncology - Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (1988)

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Roberts NJ, Zhang L, Janku F, Collins A, Bai RY, Staedtke V, Rusk AW, Tung D, Miller M, Roix J, Khanna KV, Murthy R, Benjamin RS, Helgason T, Szvalb AD, Bird JE, Roy-Chowdhuri S, Zhang HH, Qiao Y, Karim B, McDaniel J, Elpiner A, Sahora A, Lachowicz J, Phillips B, Turner A, Klein MK, Post G, Diaz LA Jr, Riggins GJ, Papadopoulos N, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, Bettegowda C, Huso DL, Varterasian M, Saha S, Zhou S. Intratumoral injection of Clostridium novyi-NT spores induces antitumor responses. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Aug 13;6(249):249ra111. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008982. PMID: 25122639 [PubMed - in process]

Kim K, Skora AD, Li Z, Liu Q, Tam AJ, Blosser RL, Diaz LA Jr, Papadopoulos N, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, Zhou S. Eradication of metastatic mouse cancers resistant to immune checkpoint blockade by suppression of myeloid-derived cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Aug 12;111(32):11774-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1410626111. Epub 2014 Jul 28. PMID: 25071169 [PubMed - in process]

Miller MS, Schmidt-Kittler O, Bolduc DM, Brower ET, Chaves-Moreira D, Allaire M, Kinzler KW, Jennings IG, Thompson PE, Cole PA, Amzel LM, Vogelstein B, Gabelli SB. Structural basis of nSH2 regulation and lipid binding in PI3Kα. Oncotarget. 2014 Jul 30;5(14):5198-208. PMID: 25105564 [PubMed - in process] 

Lennon AM, Wolfgang CL, Canto MI, Klein AP, Herman JM, Goggins M, Fishman EK, Kamel I, Weiss MJ, Diaz LA, Papadopoulos N, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, Hruban RH. The early detection of pancreatic cancer: what will it take to diagnose and treat curable pancreatic neoplasia? Cancer Res. 2014 Jul 1;74(13):3381-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-0734. Epub 2014 Jun 12. PMID: 24924775 [PubMed - in process]

Li R, Faden DL, Fakhry C, Langelier C, Jiao Y, Wang Y, Wilkerson MD, Pedamallu CS, Old M, Lang J, Loyo M, Ahn SM, Tan M, Gooi Z, Chan J, Richmon J, Wood LD, Hruban RH, Bishop J, Westra WH, Chung CH, Califano J, Gourin CG, Bettegowda C, Meyerson M, Papadopoulos N, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, DeRisi JL, Koch WM, Agrawal N. Clinical, genomic, and metagenomic characterization of oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma in patients who do not smoke. Head Neck. 2014 Jun 21. doi: 10.1002/hed.23807. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24954188

Contact for Research Inquiries

Cancer Research Bldg.
1650 Orleans Street
Baltimore, MD 21231 map
Phone: 410-955-2928
Fax: 410-955-0548

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Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Program in Human Genetics

Cellular and Molecular Medicine

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