Kidney Cancer Research

Research Kidney Cancer

The UCLA Department of Urology is committed to ongoing Kidney Cancer research in a quest to develop new treatments and cures for all urologic conditions, along with a commitment to educate and train the next generation of leading physicians and scientists.

Arie Belldegrun

Arie Belldegrun , MD

Dr. Belldegrun is internationally recognized in the field of surgical and medical management of urological cancers, designing and conducting large-scale clinical trials, and in the development of innovative therapies for patients with localized and metastatic kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer. Dr. Belldegrun’s research laboratory at UCLA has been a pioneer in the fields of genetic cancer therapy, immunotherapy, cancer vaccines, and targeted molecular therapy for urological malignancies.

Dr. Arie Belldegrun's research focuses on targeted specific therapy and immunotherapy of kidney and prostate cancers. Belldegrun's laboratory reported on the cloning of a tissue specific and androgen responsive novel 620 bp PSA promoter sequence and upstream sequence. The enhanced gene expression of the resulting construct, combined with its tissue specificity and androgen responsiveness, provide the foundation for the development of tissue specific vectors for prostate cancer gene therapy.

Belldegrun's laboratory also has studied the feasibility of isolating functional dentrictic cells from the peripheral blood of renal cell carcinoma patients and has compared their transduction efficiency using various methods of transferring gene markers into dentritic cells.


Allan Pantuck

Allan J. Pantuck, MD

Dr. Allan Pantuck’s research programs focus on gene and immune therapies for GU cancer, molecular and genomic characterization of kidney cancer, and nutritional chemoprevention of prostate cancer.

Funding has been received and work completed on a project to study chromosome 9p alterations in kidney cancer, a continuation of work started in Dr. Pantuck’s NIH-awarded K23 training grant, which ultimately led to publication of a manuscript in the journal Cancer. Dr. Pantuck’s work on genetic and molecular characterization of kidney cancer will now continue with a recently funded grant, for which he is the PI, from the Department of Defense titled “Early diagnosis of clear cell kidney cancer using VHL/HIF pathway regulated circulating microRNA,” which seeks to identify a novel panel of microRNAs that are measurable in serum for the early diagnosis of kidney cancer. Furthermore, Dr. Pantuck will receive funding for an NSF SBIR phase II grant with the UCLA Momentum Incubator spin-off Fibron Corporation, and will also serve as co-investigator on a recently funded, 5 year NIH-funded R01 grant on prostate cancer imaging.

For ten years, Dr. Pantuck has been collaborating with Dr. Arie Belldegrun to develop a targeted kidney cancer vaccine (AdGMCAIX). A RAID grant was successfully submitted to produce clinical grade vaccine material, and its manufacture has now been completed. A clinical trial utilizing this GMP manufactured vaccine has been approved by the FDA Recombinant Advisory Committee, and toxicology studies are being completed in support of an IND application for an investigator initiated clinical trial to be performed at UCLA. The intellectual property for AdGMCAIX has been successfully licensed to Kite Pharma. Two patent applications have been submitted to the Office of Intellectual Property, US Patent application No. 61/103,895, Genomic Predictor of Kidney Cancer Prognosis and Interleukin-2 Treatment Response and UCLA CASE NO. 2010-306: Molecular Signature to Predict Prognosis for Localized Clear Cell Kidney Cancer.

Dr. Pantuck’s research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.


Christopher Saigal

Christopher Saigal, MD, PhD

Dr. Christopher Saigal’s research is focused on the nexus of quality of care and trends in medical technology.  The Urologic Diseases in America project, an ongoing, NIH-funded research enterprise, evaluates quality, cost, and technology trends in major urologic conditions such as prostate, kidney and bladder cancer, as well as benign diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and kidney stones. Over 60 policy-relevant manuscripts have resulted from this project. Other major research efforts involve finding ways to use technology to improve decision making for patients in the setting of localized prostate cancer. Specifically, this research tests ways to improve “shared decision making” using computer applications. Dr. Saigal also leads the UCLA site for two national NCI-funded trials to examine outcomes of care in men treated for localized prostate cancer.

Dr. Saigal’s research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.


Brian Shuch

Brian Shuch, MD

Dr Shuch runs a large translational research laboratory focused on the molecular biology and genetics of rare forms of kidney cancer. He has helped define the role of hereditary risk and germline testing of individuals with early onset kidney cancer. He also focuses on integrating genomics to clinical management of the small renal mass. He participates in novel clinical trials designed to better risk stratify management of kidney cancer and neoadjuvant/adjuvant systemic therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.