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Karen E. Knudson, PhD to Lead the NCI-Designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University

06/04/15

(PHILADELPHIA) – Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) announced that Karen E. Knudsen, PhD, was named the new Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Jefferson.  Dr. Knudsen is an internationally recognized researcher and highly respected leader in her field with a strong vision for future of the SKCC. Jefferson is proud to announce her new role and position.

“Dr. Knudsen commands the respect of colleagues and inspires them to do better and reach higher,” says Stephen Klasko, M.D., M.B.A., President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. “She has the proven intellect and talent, and will leverage the expertise of the faculty and staff at TJU, the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and our affiliates and partners. Dr. Knudsen will lead the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center during this time of rapidly advancing research and the clinical care of cancer.”

Dr. Knudsen is a leading expert in the molecular basis of hormone-dependent cancer development and progression, with a special focus on developing new means to prevent or treat lethal prostate cancers. Dr. Knudsen’s research interests are dedicated to understanding the mechanisms by which genetic alterations lead to prostate cancer progression and resistance to therapy.  The overall goal of Dr. Knudsen’s laboratory is to utilize this information for successful development of precision medicine, to improve therapeutic outcome through rational therapy delivery. Her studies identifying tumor suppressor and hormone receptor alterations have uncovered new targets for treating advanced disease, and led to the development of innovative, biomarker-driven clinical trials.

“I’m a strong advocate of team science, both within Jefferson and beyond,” Dr. Knudsen says. During her eight years at Jefferson, Dr. Knudsen, founded the NCI-designed Prostate Cancer Program of Excellence at SKCC, and also directs a multi-disciplinary think tank of scientists and clinicians called the Greater Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Working Group. Dr. Knudsen led a team of researchers from three departments to win a $1.5 million grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and helped usher the SKCC’s partnership with the prestigious Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium to bring more cutting edge national clinical trials to Jefferson’s patients.

Strong collaborations are essential to speed the pace of impactful scientific discoveries.  They direct basic research to the questions that are most urgent to patients and clinicians, and they allow the molecular insight of basic researchers to inform clinical understanding and treatment of disease.

Dr. Knudsen’s research on a newer chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer, called cabazitaxel, revealed that this therapy could be useful for some patients earlier in their course of treatment. Her team also discovered a biomarker that may predict which patients would benefit from earlier treatment. With physician colleagues, Dr. Knudsen initiated a clinical trial called ABICABAZI to test this hypothesis in patients, in the hope of giving patients better options for treatment. In fact, much of Dr. Knudsen’s work focuses on investigating new opportunities for treating patients with more aggressive forms of prostate cancer for whom there are currently few effective therapies.  More recent studies from Dr. Knudsen’s group connected alterations in DNA repair pathways with aggressive prostate cancers, and her work has contributed to promising new therapeutic opportunities for advanced disease.

In addition to directing SKCC, Dr. Knudsen is the Hilary Koprowski Professor of Cancer Biology and Chair of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University, with joint appointments in the Departments of Urology, Radiation Oncology, and Medical Oncology.  Notably, Dr. Knudsen served as the first Vice Provost for Thomas Jefferson University, overseeing and integrating basic and clinical research across all six schools at TJU.

Dr. Knudsen serves on multiple national boards and committees associated with both basic and clinical research, including several for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Endocrine Society, the American Society for Clinical Oncology, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.  She is an Associate Editor for Endocrine-Related Cancer, and sits on the editorial boards of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the American Journal of Pathology, Molecular Endocrinology, and Oncogene. Dr. Knudsen also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the flagship basic cancer research journal of the AACR, Molecular Cancer Research.

Dr. Knudsen currently serves on the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Parent Committee A, which is the peer-review arm of the NCI-designated Cancer Center Program. In recognition of her translational expertise, Dr. Knudsen has served as a consultant for numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi, Celgene, and CellCentric. Dr. Knudsen has received numerous awards for her research, including the Ronald Ross Award for Excellence in Hormone-dependent malignancies from the Pacific Rim Breast and Prostate Cancer Research Organization, the Richard E. Weitzman Laureate Award from the Endocrine Society, the Sophie Yen Award for Distinguished Training in Translational Research, and the SWIU/SBUR Award for Excellence in Urologic Research.  In taking on the Directorship of SKCC, Dr. Knudsen will be one of only 9 women nationwide leading NCI-designated Cancer Centers.

 “I am truly honored to have been chosen to lead the SKCC. In my tenure, I plan to further increase our pace of discovery and bench-to-bedside translation that will bring cures to patients sooner, and to attract the brightest talent to our institution,” says Dr. Knudsen.

For more information, contact Edyta Zielinska, 215-955-5291, Edyta.Zielinska@jefferson.edu.