John Kuo, MD, PhD

Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery; Surgical Director of the Mulva Clinic; Professor of Neurosurgery

1991 …2019
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Personal profile


Dr. John S. Kuo, an internationally known neurosurgeon-scientist who specializes in brain tumors, is the inaugural chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, and the surgical director of the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, for Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

He was born in Taiwan, immigrated to New York City, and won a top National Westinghouse Science Talent Search scholarship for microbial genetics research while at the Bronx H.S. of Science. Dr. Kuo graduated with an AB summa cum laude in Biology from Harvard College, and was awarded an MSTP fellowship for joint MD and PhD studies at Harvard Medical School (Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology) and MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Then he completed training in clinical neurosurgery at the University of Southern California and an NREF-American Brain Tumor Association postdoctoral fellowship at University of Toronto's Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre.

Dr. Kuo is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in surgery for adult brain tumors, with special expertise in pituitary surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery. To develop novel therapies and improve clinical outcomes, he also directs an NIH-funded translational research lab studying cancer stem cell/brain tumor biology and experimental therapeutics. He leads and participates in many multi-institutional brain tumor clinical trials as Chair of the CNS Tumors Group at UW's Carbone Cancer Center. Dr. Kuo has co-authored many high impact publications, including highlighted articles in Science Translational Medicine, Clinical Cancer Research, Neurosurgery, Nature Clinical Reviews Oncology, and given many invited national and international talks. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, American Academy of Neurological Surgeons and Society of University Surgeons; he has won the Preuss Award, Headrush Brain Tumor Research award, and the NREF Young Clinician Investigator award. Dr. Kuo was named as one of America's Top Doctors, the Yeoh Ghim Seng Visiting Professor in Surgery at the National University of Singapore, and also earned multiple teaching awards at Harvard, MIT and University of Wisconsin. He also has a strong record of mentoring many high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and scientists. He has served as a reviewer for multiple NIH study sections, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Moonshot Scientific Advisory Board and other national/international scientific review boards. Dr. Kuo serves on multiple editorial boards including Scientific Reports, World Neurosurgery, Operative Neurosurgery and Neuromolecular Medicine.

Research Interests

My lab has the goal of advancing understanding of cancer stem cell (CSC) molecular biology and developing better cancer diagnostics and therapies. CSCs are the hypothesized drivers of rapid brain cancer recurrence in patients, exhibit stem cell-like properties of self-renewal and multipotent differentiation, and initiate tumors with high efficiency in a xenograft model. Isolating and using human glioblastoma cancer stem cell (GSC) lines and animal xenograft models, we are elucidating tumorigenic signaling/developmental pathways, oncogenic/tumor suppressor microRNAs, performing de novo screens for GSC-specific markers and differential mechanisms of GSC invasiveness to identify new GBM clinical biomarkers. We also test novel therapies in vitro and in vivo, including novel cancer-targeting analogs and immune-specific agents for translation to clinical trials in GBM and metastatic cancers to brain.

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Research Output 1991 2019

[124I]CLR1404 PET/CT in High-Grade Primary and Metastatic Brain Tumors

Hall, L. T., Titz, B., Baidya, N., van der Kolk, A. G., Robins, H. I., Otto, M., Perlman, S. B., Weichert, J. P. & Kuo, J., Jan 1 2019, In : Molecular Imaging and Biology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Brain Neoplasms
Positron-Emission Tomography
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

An investigation into the challenges of using metal additive manufacturing for the production of patient-specific aneurysm clips

Walker, B. J., Cox, B. L., Cikla, U., De Bellefon, G. M., Rankouhi, B., Steiner, L. J., Mahadumrongkul, P., Petry, G., Thevamaran, M., Swader, R., Kuo, J. S., Suresh, K., Thoma, D. & Eliceiri, K. W., Sep 1 2019, In : Journal of Medical Devices, Transactions of the ASME. 13, 3, 031009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3D printers
Surgical Instruments
Stainless steel
6 Citations (Scopus)

A Roadmap for Aspiring Surgeon-Scientists in Today's Healthcare Environment

Basic Science Committee of the Society of University Surgeons, Jan 1 2019, In : Annals of surgery. 269, 1, p. 66-72 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Delivery of Health Care
Translational Medical Research
Investigational Therapies
Expert Testimony

Combined Nivolumab and Ipilimumab Is an Effective Treatment for Melanoma Brain Metastases

Traylor, J. I. & Kuo, J., Mar 1 2019, In : Clinical Neurosurgery. 84, 3, p. E134-E135

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Open Access
Neoplasm Metastasis
23 Citations (Scopus)

Congress of Neurological Surgeons Systematic Review and Evidence-Based Guidelines on the Role of Steroids in the Treatment of Adults with Metastatic Brain Tumors

Ryken, T. C., Kuo, J., Prabhu, R. S., Sherman, J. H., Kalkanis, S. N. & Olson, J. J., Mar 1 2019, In : Clinical Neurosurgery. 84, 3, p. E189-E191

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Brain Neoplasms
Adrenal Cortex Hormones
Intracranial Pressure