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Kenneth James Pienta, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Kenneth James Pienta, M.D.

Director of Research, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute

Professor of Urology


Expertise: Medical Oncology

Research Interests: Novel therapeutic development; Biomarker development; Metastasis; Tumor microenvironment; Ecology of cancer

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Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964

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


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 and co-leader of the Kimmel Cancer Center's Prostate Cancer Program.

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


  • Director of Research, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute
  • Co-Director, Prostate Cancer Research Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor of Urology
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Centers & Institutes



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


  • University of Chicago Hospitals / Internal Medicine (1988)


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

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Medical Oncology (1991)

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.

Lab Website: Kenneth J. Pienta Lab

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Ecological paradigms to understand the dynamics of metastasis. Amend SR, Roy S, Brown JS, Pienta KJ. Cancer Lett. 2015 Oct 10. pii: S0304-3835(15)00622-9.

Integrative clinical genomics of advanced prostate cancer. Robinson D, Van Allen EM, Wu YM, Schultz N, Lonigro RJ, Mosquera JM, Montgomery B, Taplin ME, Pritchard CC, Attard G, Beltran H, Abida W, Bradley RK, Vinson J, Cao X, Vats P, Kunju LP, Hussain M, Feng FY, Tomlins SA, Cooney KA, Smith DC, Brennan C, Siddiqui J, Mehra R, Chen Y, Rathkopf DE, Morris MJ, Solomon SB, Durack JC, Reuter VE, Gopalan A, Gao J, Loda M, Lis RT, Bowden M, Balk SP, Gaviola G, Sougnez C, Gupta M, Yu EY, Mostaghel EA, Cheng HH, Mulcahy H, True LD, Plymate SR, Dvinge H, Ferraldeschi R, Flohr P, Miranda S, Zafeiriou Z, Tunariu N, Mateo J, Perez-Lopez R, Demichelis F, Robinson BD, Schiffman M, Nanus DM, Tagawa ST, Sigaras A, Eng KW, Elemento O, Sboner A, Heath EI, Scher HI, Pienta KJ, Kantoff P, de Bono JS, Rubin MA, Nelson PS, Garraway LA, Sawyers CL, Chinnaiyan AM. Cell. 2015 May 21;161(5):1215-28. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.05.001.

Glycolysis is the primary bioenergetic pathway for cell motility and cytoskeletal remodeling in human prostate and breast cancer cells. Shiraishi T, Verdone JE, Huang J, Kahlert UD, Hernandez JR, Torga G, Zarif JC, Epstein T, Gatenby R, McCartney A, Elisseeff JH, Mooney SM, An SS, Pienta KJ. Oncotarget. 2015 Jan 1;6(1):130-43.

Transcription factors OVOL1 and OVOL2 induce the mesenchymal to epithelial transition in human cancer. Roca H, Hernandez J, Weidner S, McEachin RC, Fuller D, Sud S, Schumann T, Wilkinson JE, Zaslavsky A, Li H, Maher CA, Daignault-Newton S, Healy PN, Pienta KJ. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4;8(10):e76773.

Human prostate cancer metastases target the hematopoietic stem cell niche to establish footholds in mouse bone marrow. Shiozawa Y, Pedersen EA, Havens AM, Jung Y, Mishra A, Joseph J, Kim JK, Patel LR, Ying C, Ziegler AM, Pienta MJ, Song J, Wang J, Loberg RD, Krebsbach PH, Pienta KJ, Taichman RS. J Clin Invest. 2011 Apr;121(4):1298-312.


Targeting The M2-tumor Associated Macrophage For Cancer Therapy
Patent # Targeting the m2-tumor associated macrophage for cancer therapy | 03/12/2015

The present invention features methods of directly targeting specific cell surface receptors on the M2 macrophage for antibody or nanoparticle directed therapy.

Human Bone Marrow Endothelial Cell Line And Methods of Use Thereof
Patent # US 5925531 A | 07/20/1999

The present invention provides immortalized human bone marrow endothelial cells which are useful for the study of tumor metastasis. In particular, the human bone marrow endothelial cell lines provided by the invention provide an in vitro model system for screening compounds for the ability to reduce, prevent, or inhibit the metastasis of cancer cells to bone tissue.

Contact for Research Inquiries

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

Activities & Honors


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


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

Professional Activities

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

Patient Ratings & Comments

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