Kenneth Kinzler is a molecular geneticist recognized for his work on human cancer. He is particularly known for studies indentifying several major cancer driver genes including the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene which initiates the majority of colorectal tumors. His subsequent analyses of the functional properties of the APC gene product has had widespread ramifications for developmental biology as well as cancer biology. He is also known for the development of genetic methods for analyzing gene expression and mutations in human cancer. He invented digital PCR and other digital genomics approaches for the detection of trace levels of tumor DNA. These inventions helped pioneer the use of somatic mutations as cancer biomarkers and the concept of liquid biopsies for cancer. Dr. Kinzler was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia) in 1983 with a BS in Toxicology and from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988 with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. After completing a post doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, he joined the faculty in 1990. He is a Fellow of American Association of Cancer Research and is a member of the National Academy of Inventors, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Dr. Kinzler's laboratory has focused on the genetics of human cancer with a particular emphasis on exploring how inherited and somatic mutations can improve the clinical management of cancer. Dr. Kinzler and his collaborators have identified over a dozen cancer driver genes (e.g., APC, CTNNB1, PIK3CA, IDH1/2, ARID1A, ATRX/DAXX and CIC) and the hereditary basis of several cancer predisposition syndromes (e.g., Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Hereditary Non-polyposis Colorectal Cancer). They have also developed several novel technologies to facilitate their studies of cancer. In particular they have focused on the development to digital genomic methods (e.g., Digital PCR, BEAMing and Safe-SeqS) for detecting trace levels of tumor DNA. Most recently, they have focused on using these digital approaches to demonstrate the power of cancer-specific somatic mutations as clinical biomarkers for early cancer detection and the management of cancer patients.

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Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology