Kian Kani, PhD

Faculty and Senior Director, Education and Outreach,
Ellison Institute of Technology
Assistant Professor of Research Medicine, USC

310 228 6400

Kian Kani is the Senior Director, Education and Outreach at the Ellison Institute of Technology and an Assistant Professor of Research Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. His dissertation thesis focused on understanding regulatory elements governing activity of a family of receptors (HER-kinase) in breast cancer. Through bioinformatics he identified a region within this receptor family that promotes self-association, which is typically correlated with cancer cell growth. He also demonstrated that under the right circumstances, receptor self-association can also play a role in preventing aberrant cancer signaling.

Dr. Kani then joined the Spielberg Family Center for Applied Proteomics (SFCAP) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center under the direction of Dr. David Agus. SFCAP’s research was focused on identifying factors that influence cancer development, progression and response to therapy. He identified protein biomarkers (biological indicators) that predicted which patients would respond to specific HER-kinase targeted therapies and helped monitor patient responses while undergoing therapy. Dr. Kani was also able to develop tools that empowered physicians to predict therapy response.


When the Center relocated to USC in 2009, Dr. Kani joined the team in their new home. With the divergent group at the Ellison Institute, he has integrated new tools to study cancer and gain a better understanding of its ecosystem. Dr. Kani has expanded the institute’s clinical trials group, which improved access to patient specimens to validate biomarker discovery efforts. He also initiated the CAMM Jr. Fellows program to foster the training of future rock stars of science. Dr. Kani passionately shares the Ellison Institute’s goal of developing new ways to diagnose and treat cancer patients who are in urgent need of breakthroughs today.

Research Focus

Personalized Medicine
Signal transduction



1996 Biology/ Chemistry – University of Hartford, CT


2001 Biochemistry – California State University, Long Beach, CA


2006 Biological Chemistry – University of California, Los Angeles, CA 2006-2009 Postdoctoral Research – Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA


European Molecular Biology Organization: Travel Award, 2009

Human Proteome Organization: Outstanding Poster Award, 2008 

Department of Biological Chemistry, UCLA: David Sigman Award, 2003 

University of Hartford: Summa Cum Laude, 1996

University of Hartford: Gengras Academic Scholarship, 1994 

Thomas Cook Rewards and Recognition Award 

Prominent Publications

Tiemann K, Garri C. Lee SB, Malilhi PD, Alvarez RM, Yap L, Mallick P, Katz JE, Gross ME, Kani K. Loss of ER retention motif of AGR2 can impact mTORC signaling and promote cancer metastasis. Oncogene. 2018 0950-9232, 12:21. View in: PubMed

Garri C, Howell S, Tiemann K, Tiffany A, Jalali-Yazdi F, Alba MA, Katz JE. Takahashi TT, Landgraf R, Gross ME, Roberts RW, Kani K. Identification, characterization and application of a new peptide against anterior gradient homolog 2 (AGR2). Oncotarget. 2018; 9:27363-27379 View in: PubMed

Kani K, Garri C, Tiemann K, Malihi PD, Punj V, Nguyen AL, Lee J, Hughes LD, Alvarez RM, Wood DM, Joo AY, Katz JE, Agus DB, Mallick P. JUN-Mediated downregulation of EGFR signaling is associated with resistance to gefitinib in EGFR-mutant NSCLC cell lines. Mol Cancer Ther. 2017 May 31. pii: PubMed PMID: 28566434. View in: PubMed

Poon C,  Chowdhuri S,  Kuo CH, Fang Y,  Alenghat FJ, Hyatt D,  Kani K, Gross ME, and Chung EJ. Protein Mimetic and Anticancer Properties of Monocyte-Targeting Peptide Amphiphile Micelles. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 2017 3 (12), 3273-3282 View in: PubMed

Kani K. Quantitative Proteomics Using SILAC.Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1550:171-184. View in: PubMed

Kani K, Malihi PD, Jiang Y, Wang H, Wang Y, Ruderman DL, Agus DB, Mallick P, Gross ME. Anterior gradient 2 (AGR2): blood-based biomarker elevated in metastatic prostate cancer associated with the neuroendocrine phenotype. Prostate. 2013 Feb 15; 73(3):306-15. View in: PubMed

Chambers MC, Maclean B, Burke R, Amodei D, Ruderman DL, Neumann S, Gatto L, Fischer B, Pratt B, Egertson J, Hoff K, Kessner D, Tasman N, Shulman N, Frewen B, Baker TA, Brusniak MY, Paulse C, Creasy D, Flashner L, Kani K, Moulding C, Seymour SL, Nuwaysir LM, Lefebvre B, Kuhlmann F, Roark J, Rainer P, Detlev S, Hemenway T, Huhmer A, Langridge J, Connolly B, Chadick T, Holly K, Eckels J, Deutsch EW, Moritz RL, Katz JE, Agus DB, Maccoss M, Tabb DL, Mallick P. A cross-platform toolkit for mass spectrometry and proteomics. Nat Biotechnol. 2012 Oct 10; 30(10):918-20. View in: PubMed

Kani K, Faca VM, Hughes LD, Zhang W, Fang Q, Shahbaba B, Luethy R, Erde J, Schmidt J, Pitteri SJ, Zhang Q, Katz JE, Gross ME, Plevritis SK, McIntosh MW, Jain A, Hanash S, Agus DB, Mallick P. Quantitative Proteomic Profiling Identifies Protein Correlates to EGFR Kinase Inhibition. Mol Cancer Ther. 2012 May; 11(5):1071-81. View in: PubMed

Kani K, Sordella R, Mallick P. Investigation of acquired resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies in lung cancer using cDNA microarrays. Methods Mol Biol. 2012; 795:233-53. View in: PubMed