President Joe Biden has appointed John Carpten to serve as chair of the administration’s National Cancer Advisory Board, which plays an important role in guiding the director of the National Cancer Institute in setting the course for the national cancer research program.
Carpten, the founding chair of translational genomics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and founding director of the USC Institute of Translational Genomics, is an internationally recognized leader in cancer genomics and precision oncology. Precision oncology aims to provide patients with individually tailored medical treatment and drugs. Carpten is also a pioneer in investigating the biology behind disparities in cancer outcomes among populations.
“I am both honored and humbled to have been selected for a presidential appointment and given this tremendous responsibility by the White House. To chair the board that helps to set the national agenda for cancer research is incredibly exciting,” Carpten said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I do not take it for granted. I plan to lead and serve with integrity and to embrace the challenges ahead while advancing innovation towards improvements in outcomes for cancer patients.”
Carpten serves as associate director of basic sciences for the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. In his current work at USC, Carpten studies the entire DNA and RNA sequences of tumors using next-generation instrumentation. The goal is to identify biochemical vulnerabilities that can be targeted with new or existing therapies.
In 2018, he was recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research for his outstanding research in cancer disparities and his efforts in developing the careers of minority scientists. Since 2006, he has been the principal investigator or project leader on 22 National Cancer Institute grants.
“Two words come to mind — cutting edge and compassionate — when I think about Dr. Carpten’s preeminent work in the field of genome cancer research,” said USC Provost Charles Zukoski. “He has dedicated much of his life’s work to understanding the role that biology plays in cancer occurrence and mortality rates among underrepresented groups and there is no doubt that this vital research has saved countless lives. In addition, Dr. Carpten’s mentorship has paved the way for the next generation of cancer researchers–especially cancer disparities researchers—the very bedrock for the future of inclusive cancer research.”
With over 190 peer-reviewed publications and more than a dozen patents to his credit, Carpten has generated landmark findings. He was a lead author on the first study to probe the entire genome for inherited prostate cancer genes.
He also led a high-profile study that identified a novel mutation in a gene that plays a role in the development of breast, colorectal and ovarian cancers. His lab profiled common mutations in genes leading to multiple myeloma — a form of cancer that disproportionately affects African Americans.
Prior to his 2016 recruitment to USC’s faculty, Carpten served as deputy director of basic sciences and professor and division director of integrated cancer genomics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona. Before that, he was a tenure-track independent investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he had pursued his postdoctoral training. He earned his doctorate from Ohio State University and received his baccalaureate degree from Lane College in Tennessee.