Kenneth 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.
ALS patient feels great after stem cell transplant
Took part in Phase I of Dr. Eva Feldman's human clinical trial
Ted Harada tells Crain's Detroit Business that nearly nine months after receiving stem cell injections to his spinal cord, improvement persists.
The birth of two human clinical trials
The Taubman Institute’s overriding purpose is to discover potential new treatments that can be tested in clinical trials. Watch as two Taubman Scholars explain how they made it happen.
Institute training video helps physicians overseas
U-M exam method for diabetic nerve damage translated to Mandarin Chinese. The Taubman Institute has produced video of an exam protocol that will help doctors in Asia and elsewhere as they grapple with growing diabetes epidemics and the resulting complications.
news & events
- June 14, 2013
- June 05, 2013
- May 31, 2013
Taubman Scholars direct 31 human clinical trials
Science funded by the Taubman Institute has led to 31 current human clinical trials, studying potential therapies for diseases including breast cancer, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and ALS. See the complete list of trials.
People who care
Generous donors fund institute's summer students
Leadership advisory board members fund Tauber Family Student Internship Program
Three future medical scientists will work with Taubman Institute researchers starting in June.
State leaders laud Taubman Institute accomplishments
Leaders of state and local government visited the Taubman Institute on March 18 to tour Taubman Scholar labs and discuss the potential medical research offers for both improving the health of residents and establishing new jobs and businesses in Michigan.