Keck School of Medicine establishes new academic department and research institute

John Carpten, PhD

John Carpten, PhD

The Keck School of Medicine has created a new academic department and institute. John Carpten, PhD, will head the new Department of Translational Genomics and Institute of Translational Genomics at the Keck School of Medicine, effective January 1, 2016. Carpten is currently serving as the deputy director of basic sciences, and professor/division director of the division of integrated cancer genomics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) in Arizona.

Over the course of his career, Carpten has become renowned for his key discoveries and contributions in the fields of cancer genetics and genomics. Due to his rare combination of expertise in germline genetics in cancer and other heritable disease, in somatic cancer genomics, in cell biology, and in precision medicine in both pediatric and adult conditions, Carpten is uniquely positioned to lead this exciting new endeavor.

He was a lead author on the first genome-wide scan for hereditary prostate cancer genes published in Science. Carpten was also among the early pioneers in the area of health disparities research with the goal of understanding the role of biology in disparate incidence and mortality rates seen among underrepresented populations. Through his leadership, the African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer Study (AAHPC) Network was conceived. This study has become a model for genetic linkage studies in underrepresented populations and led to the first genome-wide scan for prostate cancer susceptibility genes in African Americans.

Carpten has also been a leader in cancer genome science and is among a small group of cancer geneticists with vast experience in both germline genetics and somatic tumor biology. This has included the application of high throughput genomic technologies such as microarray measurements of genotypes and somatic alterations, and next generation sequencing technologies for genome interrogation.

Carpten has also played leadership roles in multiple myeloma research and in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Genomics Initiative. Carpten has also begun to apply next generation sequencing technologies for deep genomic profiling of tumors in a clinical setting. He and clinical partners performed a precision medicine study using whole genome and transcriptome sequencing on 14 metastatic triple-negative breast cancers to identify therapeutically actionable events that were used for treatment recommendations. The resulting paper was the most cited article in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2014. He is recognized as a thought leader in precision medicine, as shown by a number of papers describing the results of clinical cancer sequencing studies in cancer patients.