John D. Carpten, PhD

John D. Carpten, PhD
Professor and Chair of Translational Genomics; Director, Institute For Translational Genomics
​Keck School of Medicine of USC
Los Angeles, California

Dr. Carpten is an internationally recognized expert if genome science, and possess unique training in multiple disciplines including germline genetics for disease risk and predisposition, somatic cancer genomics, health disparities research, cell biology, functional genomics, and precision medicine.

Dr. Carpten earned his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in 1994 with a focus on human genetics. He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Bethesda, in Cancer Genetics, where he was later promoted to the tenure track in 2000. Then in 2003, Dr. Carpten accepted a position to become Division Director, Division of Integrated Cancer Genomics, at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Phoenix, AZ. Later, in 2012 he was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of Basic Research for TGen. In 2016 he was recruited by the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, to build and chair a new Department and Institute of Translational Genomics.

Dr. Carpten’s primary 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 characteristics, respectively. A major focus of Dr. Carpten’s research has been related to prostate cancer genetics. He was a lead author on the first genome wide scan for hereditary prostate cancer genes (Science. 1996 Nov 22;274(5291):1371-4.), and the identification of HOXB13 as the first true hereditary prostate cancer gene (New England Journal of Medicine. 2012 Jan 12;366(2):141-9.). His group has also discovered a number of single nucleotide polymorphisms, which confer increased risk of developing prostate cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2007 Dec 19;99(24):1836-44.). Furthermore, he has played a critical role in prostate cancer cell biology studies (Nat Genet. 2004 Sep;36(9):979-83.), and prostate cancer tumor genome profiling studies (Genome Res. 2011 Jan;21(1):47-55.).

Dr. Carpten has also been an early pioneer in the understanding the role of biology in disparate cancer incidence and mortality rates seem 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 (Prostate. 2007 Jan 1;67(1):22-31.). 

Dr. Carpten’ cancer research program spans many tumor types including but not limited to prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, and multiple myeloma, in addition to several forms of pediatric cancer. He led a landmark study, which culminated in the discovery of the AKT1(E17K) activating mutation in human cancers, published in Nature. This study received an "Exceptional" rating by the Faculty of 1000, placing the paper in the top 1% of published work worldwide in the area of biology in 2007. It also received a “Must Read” rating, placing the paper in the top 5% of published work in the area of medicine. He extended this work to include an in depth analysis of the functional and mechanistic effects of this mutation on mammary cell biology (Human Mutation). Furthermore, his laboratory participated in and led several high impact studies in Multiple Myeloma research. This includes the seminal study describing common mutation of NF-kB pathway genes in Multiple Myeloma, which was published in Cancer Cell. Importantly, Multiple Myeloma is yet another form of cancer, which disproportionately affects African Americans. Dr. Carpten’s laboratory led the first study to interrogate the somatic features of Multiple Myeloma tumors derived from African American patients, who have higher incidence rates and worse outcomes compared to European descent Myeloma patients (Blood).

Dr. Carpten has also been involved the development and application of high throughput genomic methods and technologies throughout his career. Currently, he has a major focus in Precision Medicine, where Next Generation Sequencing is being applied to interrogate the genomes and transcriptomes of tumors in a clinical setting to identify targetable events for select therapeutics (Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. 2013 Jan;12(1):104-16.) (PLoS Genetics. 2014 Feb 13;10(2):e1004135.). Towards these efforts, he coordinated the development of a CLIA-certified laboratory to support clinical genomic testing. This laboratory was later commercialized as Ashion Analytics, LLC.

Dr. Carpten has received research funding awards from various sources to support his research including NIH, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and a number of pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Carpten has co-authored over 160 publications in scientific journals that include Science, Nature, Nature Genetics, Genome Research, Cancer Research, Molecular Cancer Research, Cancer Cell, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

It is his hope that this work will one day lead to improvements in knowledge based therapeutics toward improvements in outcomes for cancer patients.