Peter Kuhn is an associate professor in the department of cell biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. His research is focused on the development of a fluid biopsy for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy management of breast, lung, colon, prostate and other tissue cancers. In 2009, he has become the principal investigator of the Scripps Physical Sciences Oncology Center.
Since joining Scripps Research in 2002, Kuhn has focused his research on developing novel approaches to therapeutic and diagnostic development in cancer and viral infections. The goal of his research is to significantly contribute to making cancer a managed disease. Most recently his work in collaboration with Scripps investigator Ray Stevens and their collaborators at Stanford University, has led to the discovery of the structure of the human β2 Adrenergic receptor. This is the first high resolution structure determination of a recombinantly produced human G-protein coupled receptor and this work was one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of Science Magazine in 2007.
With his background physics and focus on delivering scientific breakthroughs to make cancer a managed disease, Kuhn has co-authored over a hundred scientific publications and patents on his research supported by private donations, corporate grants and support of the National Institutes of Health. Kuhn previously was an assistant professor at Stanford Medical School and Stanford University’s Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, where he co-founded and co-lead the Joint Center for Structural Genomics within the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University in collaboration with Scripps Research. Kuhn holds a doctorate in physics from the Wadsworth Center at the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York (SUNY). He also holds a master’s degree in physics from SUNY and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Julius Maximillians Universität in Würzburg, Germany.
Kuhn serves on a number of national and international advisory panels for the US and foreign institutes and governments as well as providing scientific and business strategy advice to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He most recently co-founded the San Diego Lifesciences ThinkTank SHOUT. In 2006 Kuhn’s research was featured during Microsoft’s launch of Vista and Office 2007 with Steve Ballmer at the NASDAQ opening.
Making cancer a managed disease is the theme of research in the Kuhn Laboratory. Translational team science is the approach by which the laboratory is accomplishing its goals. Working side by side across the disciplines of physics, biophysics, cell biology, pathology and oncology is the daily life in the lab. The primary focus is to deliver a new diagnostic platform that will for the first time enable blood based biopsies of tissue tumors in breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers. The blood system is the body’s major highway system providing the nutrition to the primary cancer and providing a transport mechanism for cancer cells to migrate to distant sites. These so called circulating tumor cells are then programmed to initiate new tumor growth that eventually kills the patient. Finding and characterizing these cells early provides a new opportunity to monitor and characterize the cancer over time and tailor the treatment to the specifics of an individual’s cancer.