University of Southern California
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

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John D. Carpten, Ph.D.

Photograph of John D. Carpten

John D. Carpten, Ph.D. is Co-Leader of the Translational and Clinical Sciences Program (TACS) at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also Professor and Chair for the Department of Translational Genomics at the Keck School of Medicine, and Co-Director of the USC Institute for Translational Genomics. Previously he was Professor and Deputy Director of Basic Sciences, Translational Genomics Research Institute, Phoenix, AZ. He earned his Ph.D in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology within the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Ohio State University. He then went on for postdoctoral training in genome sciences at the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD with Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent and co-mentor Dr. Francis F. Collins. He was later promoted to the tenure track at NHGRI where he began his early career development.

Dr. Carpten's research background spans a very broad range of topics including work in germ-line genetics, tumor genome analysis, cancer cell biology, and health disparities. His research program centers around the development and application of cutting edge genomic technologies and bioinformatics analysis in search of germ-line and somatic alterations that are associated with cancer risk and tumor biology, respectively. His work spans many of the known cancer types including but not limited to prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, multiple myeloma, and pediatric cancers.

Dr. Carpten has an intense focus on understanding the role of biology in disparate cancer incidence and mortality rates 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 studies in underrepresented populations and led to the first genome wide scan for prostate cancer susceptibility genes in African Americans. Dr. Carpten also has a very active program in sporadic tumor research. His laboratory participated in and led several high impact studies including the identification of NF-B pathway mutations in Multiple Myeloma, which was published in Cancer Cell. He also led a landmark study, which culminated in the discovery of the AKT1(E17K) activating mutation in human cancers, published in Nature. He also has research published in Science, Nature Genetics, Genome Research, and New England Journal of Medicine.

To improve the discovery of important alterations associated with cancer, Dr. Carpten was an early adopter in the implementation, development, and application of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies for cancer genomics. These technologies offer the opportunity to comprehensively interrogate cancer genomes to uncover the lexicon of somatic events within tumors. He has worked with numerous clinical partners to establish Precision Medicine trials using whole genome and transcriptome sequencing to identify therapeutically actionable events. One such study reported results of genome sequencing of 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. Furthermore, he coordinated the development of a CLIA-certified genomic testing laboratory, which was commercialized as Ashion Analytics, LLC. He is recognized as a thought leader in Precision Medicine, evidenced by his numerous publications describing the results of clinical cancer sequencing studies.

Finally, Dr. Carpten has received research funding awards from various sources to support his research including NIH, NCI, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, V Foundation, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and a number of pharmaceutical companies. It is his hope that this work will one day lead to improvements in knowledge based therapeutics toward improvements in outcomes for USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center patients.