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The genetic basis of kidney cancer: targeting the metabolic basis of disease

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


W. Marston Linehan, M.D.
Chief and Senior Investigator, Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute

W. Marston Linehan, M.D. is Chief of Urologic Surgery and the Urologic Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. He has had a long standing interest in identification of the genetic basis of cancer of the kidney. By studying patients and families with kidney cancer, he and his colleagues identified the VHL gene (von Hippel-Lindau and clear cell renal carcinoma), the gene for Hereditary Papillary Renal Carcinoma (MET oncogene, type I papillary renal carcinoma) the FLCN gene (Birt Hogg Dubé syndrome, chromophobe renal carcinoma), the gene for TFE3 kidney cancer and described the germline fumarate hydratase and succinate dehydrogenase B/C/D mutations in the North American families with hereditary leiomyomatosis renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC) and SDH-RCC and described five new diseases. This work has provided the basis for the development of new therapeutic strategies for the different types of kidney cancer based on understanding the molecular pathway of the specific cancer genes associated with the different types of kidney cancer. He and his colleagues have defined the methods for clinical management of kidney cancer associated with the hereditary forms of kidney cancer, von Hippel Lindau, Hereditary Papillary Renal Carcinoma and Birt Hogg Dubé syndrome and Hereditary Leiomyomatosis Renal Cell Carcinoma and Succinate Dehydrogenase Renal Cell Carcinoma.

He received his internship, residency and fellowship training Duke University Medical Center. He began his career at the National Cancer Institute in 1982 with positions as Senior Investigator and Urologist-in-Charge, NCI. He currently serves as Chief of the Urologic Oncology Branch, NCI. He also serves as Clinical Professor at Georgetown University and Adjunct Professor of Urology at George Washington University.

Dr. Linehan is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science and is or has been on the editorial board of 14 journals. He has received the Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research from the American Association of Cancer Research, the Dr. Nathan Davis Award from the American Medical Association, the Lila Gruber Award for Cancer Research from the American Association of Dermatology, the NIH Director’s Award for discovery of the VHL kidney cancer gene, the Barringer Medal from the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons, the Gold Cystoscope Award and the Distinguished Contribution Award from the American Urological Association, the Huggins Medal and the SUO Medal from the Society of Urologic Oncology and the Andrew C. Novick Award from the Kidney Cancer Association.


Dr. Linehan has had a long-standing interest in identification of the genetic basis of cancer of the kidney. Kidney cancer is not a single disease. It is made up of a number of different types of cancer, each of which has a different histology, a different clinical course, which respond differently to therapy and are caused by different genes. Studies of the kidney cancer gene pathways have revealed that kidney cancer is fundamentally a metabolic disease. These findings have provided the foundation for the development of targeted therapeutic approaches for patients with advanced forms of this disease.

The page was last updated on Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 10:52am