pientaKenneth J. Pienta, M.D.

Professor of Internal Medicine and of Urology

Director of Experimental Therapeutics, Michigan Center for Translational Pathology

Principal Investigator, Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Metastasis and Therapeutic Strategies

Work in Kenneth Pienta’s laboratory focuses on understanding the biology of prostate cancer metastasis — how cancer cells interact with normal cells of the body as they develop a primary tumor and then spread to other sites in the body. He studies this interaction between the normal cells and the cancer cells using principles borrowed from the science of ecology, and believes that by thinking of tumors as ecosystems we can better understand how to treat cancer. His laboratory has especially focused on studying how cancer cells metastasize to bone and to target the resulting metastatic tumors for therapy.

A central question in cancer biology, diagnosis and treatment remains how cancers have the ability to invade and survive in the bone marrow. Pienta and his colleagues believe that metastatic prostate cancers behave like an invasive species attacking a new environment and target and compete with hematopoietic stem cells — cells that reside in bone marrow that make a person’s red and white blood cells — for space in the bone marrow where the hematopoietic cells normally reside. Disseminated tumor cells can hide in marrow for years — where they slowly proliferate — and where humans are slowly and secretly losing the cancer battle.

This is a powerful new observation that opens up entire new biologic questions in understanding cancer metastasis, suggests new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and points to new targets for therapy - all actively being worked on in the laboratory.


Help Us Make A Difference. Make A Donation That Could Save Lives.

Make A Gift


Follow Us / Friend Us

Discovery-driven research that matters


Taubman Scholar Dr. Charles Burant tests promising diabetes drug

TAK-875, a new treatment for type 2 diabetes, improves blood sugar control and is equally effective as glimepiride, but has a significantly lower risk of creating a dangerous drop in blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, according to a new study.

Read more

Taubman Institute leaders make the case for more doctor-scientist funding


The prestigious "Academic Medicine" journal has just published a new article authored by Taubman Institute senior management and Detroit-area attorney Scott Roberts.

The article explores the problematic gap between bench research and clinical application of new treatments or cures. 

Read more

Help Us Make A Difference. Make A Gift.

Leaders from the realms of business, academia and the community help to refine the Taubman Institute's vision, to monitor progress and to provide support, advice and counsel.

Meet the Leadership Advisory Board

Meet the Scientific Advisory Board

About Taubman Institute Video

In this video feature, Taubman Scholars explain why funding for high-risk research is so important to their work and to the discovery of promising cures and treatments.  


Stem cell surgery targets ALS Video

Patients glean hope from trial’s progress but wish it were faster


video-emerging-scholars-programDonors pitch in to keep brilliant science minds at U-M Video

Emerging Scholars program connects promising M.D.-researchers with philanthropists