USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD

Deputy Director for Research Programs

Dr. Lenz is the Deputy Director for Research Programs and Head of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at USC Norris. His work focuses on the pharmacogenomics of GI cancers. Dr. Lenz earned his M.D. degree at the Johannes-Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany.

An active researcher, Dr. Lenz’s National Cancer Institute-funded laboratory is developing novel agents in his preclinical models in GI cancer.  Lenz, a transformational clinical investigator and translational scientist, was the first to measure intratumoral RNA levels associated with efficacy of 5-FU and oxaliplatin and led the first prospective randomized Phase II trials using gene expression from FFPE specimens.

He also discovered that primary tumor location of colorectal cancer (CRC) is an independent predictive and prognostic marker, now in the NCNN guidelines. His paper on Consensus Molecular Subtyping identified novel subgroups that are predictive and prognostic in CRC, now used globally in drug development. He has been the Co-PI of the UG1 CA 062505 for the last 20 years and leads the NCCC site for the NCI UM1 (CA186717 with City of Hope, (UC Davis), and Stanford. He is Chair of the Translational Medicine Subcommittee in SWOG GI, member of the NCI Gastroesophageal Task Force and Clinical Trial Planning Committee, as well as the Investigational Drug Steering Committee. Lenz accelerates translational and clinical research and provides training and mentoring in the design and implementation of investigator-initiated trials. He was awarded a Career Development Award from STOP CANCER (1994-1997). Based on his research, he also received a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in 1994. In 1995, Dr. Lenz was selected for the prestigious ASCO Career Development Award, as well as an NIH Mid-Career Development Award, in 1998. He has published over 450 peer reviewed manuscripts.