John Kuo, MD, PhD, FACS

Dept: Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery
and Human Oncology
Director, Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program
Chair, UW Carbone Cancer Center CNS Tumors Group
Contact: Dept. of Neurological Surgery, 8th Floor CSC
(608) 263-1410
j.kuo (at) neurosurgery (dot) wisc (dot) edu
Training Areas: Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Cell and Molecular Biology
Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center
Neuroscience Training Program
Lab Website: Kuo Lab Page



Research Interests

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an incurable human primary brain cancer. Recent work identified a subset of GBM cells that exhibit stem-like properties and high tumor initiation efficiency. These glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) phenotypically and genetically similar normal neural stem cells (NSC), exhibit self-renewal, multipotent differentiation. Patient-derived GSC implanted in immunodeficient mouse brains efficiently generate tumor xenografts reflecting invasiveness of human GBM. Our goal is to optimize and use patient-derived GSC, GBM and NSC models to discover novel clinically-relevant biomarkers, elucidate tumor biology and novel mechanisms of therapeutic resistance. We use in vitro and in vivo studies to develop and test novel treatments and translate findings into clinical trials for more effective strategies improve patient survival and quality of life.

Honors and Awards

  • 2008: Young Clinician Investigator Award, AANS Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation
  • 2008-pres: Headrush Brain Tumor Research Professorship
  • 2012-pres: Fellow, American College of Surgeons
  • 2015-pres: Elected to Society of University Surgeons

Selected Publications

  • Cong D, Zhu W, Kuo JS, Hu S, Sun D. “Ion Transporters in Brain Tumors,” Curr. Med. Chem., 2015 Jan 14. PMID: 25620102, PMCID: In Process
  • Cong D, Zhu W, Shi Y, Pointer KB, Clark PA, Kuo JS, Hu S, Sun D “Up-regulation of NHE-1 protein expression enables glioblastoma cells to escape TMZ-mediated toxicity via increased H+ extrusion, cell migration and survival.” Carcinogenesis, 2014 Apr 9. PMID: 24717311, PMCID: PMC4146414.
  • Weichert JP*, Clark PA, Kandela IK, Vaccaro AM, Clark W, Longino MA, Pinchuk AN, Farhoud M, Swanson KI, Floberg JM, Grudzinksi J, Titz B, Traynor AM, Chen HE, Hall LT, Pazoles CJ, Pickhardt PJ, Kuo JS* “Alkylphosphocholine analogs for broad spectrum cancer imaging and therapy.” (*Co-senior authors) Science Translational Medicine 6, 240ra75 (June 11, 2014). *Chosen for cover illustration, featured with podcast. PMID: 2492066. PMCID PMCID: PMC4336181

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.39.22 AM

  • Swanson KI, Clark PA, Zhang RR, Kandela IK, Farhoud M, Weichert JP, Kuo JS, “Fluorescent cancer-selective alkylphosphocholine analogs for intraoperative glioma detection,” Neurosurgery* 76 (2):115-24 *featured as High Impact Manuscript, on cover and with video abstract. PMID: 25549194 PMCID: PMC4343207
  • Pointer KB, Zorniak M, Clark PA, Alrfaei BM, Kuo JS “Glioblastoma cancer stem cells: Biomarker and therapeutic advances.” Neurochemistry International 71: 1-7 (published online March 19, 2014). *2nd most downloaded paper of January-June 2014. PMID: 24657832 NIHMS ID: 582413