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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Peter Kuhn, PhD

Professor of Biological Sciences,
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Current Research

The goal of precision, or personalized, medicine is to deliver the right drug to the right person at the right time. This requires a deep understanding of the changes in breast cancer that occur throughout the course of treatment. Advances in technology have made it possible to study breast cancers at the cellular level with a simple blood draw, or fluid biopsy. Such a minimally invasive test could be performed frequently during treatment and provide real time information to physicians, while providing frequent feedback to the patient before, during and after treatment. The collaborative effort of Drs. Kuhn and Hicks aims to optimize and implement a comprehensive fluid biopsy for breast cancer by incorporating the proteomic and genomic information from circulating cancer cells and circulating tumor DNA to obtain a complete description of the disease. Their research combines technology development with mathematical analysis to create a single assay that leverages a variety of information found in blood and circulating cells. Using a biorepository from nearly 100 early and late stage patients they will assess the presence of both cells and cell-free DNA, analyzing the full range of cell types present in each sample, while increasing the sensitivity of the platform to detect mutations in circulating tumor DNA. The results from these efforts will enable the first truly comprehensive fluid biopsy and accelerate the path to personalized medicine.


Dr. Kuhn is a scientist and entrepreneur with a career long commitment in personalized medicine and individualized cancer patient care. He is focused on the redesign of cancer care.

Dr. Kuhn is a Professor at USC, a founding member of a new Institute of Convergent Sciences and director of the Southern California Physics Oncology Center. His research is shedding new light at how cancer spreads through the body. This new science will lead to a personalized care strategy that is biologically informed and clinically actionable.

Leveraging the laboratory’s fluid biopsy technology innovation, the Southern California Physics Oncology Center is advancing daily the forefront of both improving healthcare effectiveness for cancer patients by providing drug guidance and increasing our understanding of cancer as a disease in each individual patient. 

Dr. Kuhn is a physicist who trained initially at the Julius Maximilians Universität Würzburg, Germany, before receiving his Masters in Physics at the University of Albany, Albany, NY in 1993 and his PhD. in 1995. He then moved to Stanford University where he later joined the faculties of Medicine and Accelerator Physics. From 2002 to 2014 he established a translational science program at the Scripps Research in La Jolla, CA that brought together over forty scientists from basic, engineering and medical sciences to work on understanding the spread of cancer in the human body. He has published over 180 peer scientific articles and filed 16 patents as a result of his research. Dr. Kuhn joined USC in 2014.