Michael Kahn, Ph.D., has joined City of Hope as professor and associate chair in the Department of Molecular Medicine. He comes to us from the University of Southern California, where he was the first appointed Provost Professor, with joint appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Keck School of Medicine and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology in the School of Pharmacy. He was also the co-leader of the GI-Oncology program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as the Center for Drug Discovery and Development at USC.
After completing his postdoctoral training at Columbia University with Professor Gilbert Stork, Dr. Kahn subsequently did a second postdoctoral fellowship at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology, where he first became interested in utilizing novel chemistry to complement and enhance the investigation of complex biological signaling pathways.
Dr. Kahn’s research program is focused on the integration of basic science (biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and chemistry) with translational medicine. His lab utilizes a forward chemical genomic strategy to identify and validate novel pharmacologic tools to study complex signaling pathways in development and disease. Utilizing a proprietary chemical library, his lab identified the first specific CBP/β-catenin antagonist ICG-001, which has been fundamental in studies involving both normal somatic stem cell and cancer stem cell biology. From a translational perspective, these studies led to the development of the second-generation CBP/β-catenin antagonist, Wnt modulating drug, PRI-724. These efforts resulted in the clinical trials of PRI-724 in colon and pancreatic cancer, leukemia and liver fibrosis.
His lab is currently continuing basic research investigations concerning differential Kat3 coactivator usage (i.e. CBP versus p300) in somatic stem cell biology and cancer, regenerative medicine and aging. The lab is also investigating modulation of Wnt/β-catenin in the immune response. CBP/ β-catenin inhibitors in combination with immunotherapy may provide a significant benefit. Another area of interest to his lab is the endogenous mechanisms that control the differential usage of these coactivators and the role that the N-termini play as a nexus for the integration of a number of additional signaling pathways (e.g. Stat1/2, nuclear receptor family e.g. RAR/RXR, Vit D) with the Wnt signaling cascade. Dr. Kahn is applying this forward chemical genomic strategy to additional critical signaling cascades with the broader goal of developing novel small molecule therapeutics.