Kian Kani, PhD

Kian Kani, PhD

Kian Kani, PhD

Assistant Professor of Research Medicine

+ 1 323 442 2539

Kian is an Assistant Professor of Research Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative 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.

Kian 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. Kian was also able to develop tools that empowered physicians to predict therapy response.

When the Center relocated to USC in 2009, Kian 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. Kian 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. Kian 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.



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

Research Focus

  • Personalized Medicine
  • Biomarkers
  • Proteomics
  • Signal transduction


  • 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


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

Juarez EJ, Garri C, Ghaffarizadeh A, Macklin P, Kani K. Quantification of cancer cell migration with an integrated experimental-computational pipeline.  F1000Research 2018, 7:1296 View: here

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

Tiemann K, Garri C, Wang J, Clarke L, Kani K.  Assessment of Resistance to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors by an Interrogation of Signal Transduction Pathways by Antibody Arrays.  Journal of Visualized Experiments. (139), e57779, doi:10.3791/57779 (2018) View in: PubMed

Hughes NP, Xu L, Nielsen NC, Chang E, Hori S, Natarajan A, Lee S, Kjær A, Kani K, Wang XS, Mallick PM, Gambhir S. A Blood Biomarker for Monitoring Response to anti-EGFR Therapy.  Cancer Biomarkers. vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 333-344, 2018 View in: PubMed

Christopher Poon, Sampreeti Chowdhuri, Cheng-Hsiang Kuo, Yun Fang, Francis J. Alenghat, Danielle Hyatt, Kian Kani, Mitchell E. Gross, and Eun Ji Chung.  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, 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

Liao CP, Chen LY, Luethy A, Kim Y, Kani K, MacLeod AR, Gross ME. Androgen receptor in cancer-associated fibroblasts influences stemness in cancer cells. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2017 Apr;24(4):157-170 View in: PubMed

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

Frieboes HB, Curtis LT, Wu M, Kani K, Mallick P. Simulation of the Protein-Shedding Kinetics of a Fully Vascularized Tumor. Cancer Inform. 2015; 14:163-75. 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

Zhang Q, Park E, Kani K, Landgraf R. Functional isolation of activated and unilaterally phosphorylated heterodimers of ERBB2 and ERBB3 as scaffolds in ligand-dependent signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 14; 109(33):13237-42. 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

Fang Q, Kani K, Faca VM, Zhang W, Zhang Q, Jain A, Hanash S, Agus DB, McIntosh MW, Mallick P. Impact of protein stability, cellular localization, and abundance on proteomic detection of tumor-derived proteins in plasma. PLoS One. 2011; 6(7):e23090. View in: PubMed

Vogelsang MS, Kani K, Katz JE, Mallick P. Model-based discovery of circulating biomarkers. Methods Mol Biol. 2011; 728:87-107. View in: PubMed

Luethy R, Kessner DE, Katz JE, Maclean B, Grothe R, Kani K, Faça V, Pitteri S, Hanash S, Agus DB, Mallick P. Precursor-ion mass re-estimation improves peptide identification on hybrid instruments. J Proteome Res. 2008 Sep; 7(9):4031-9. View in: PubMed

Warren CM, Kani K, Landgraf R. The N-terminal domains of neuregulin 1 confer signal attenuation. J Biol Chem. 2006 Sep 15; 281(37):27306-16. View in: PubMed

Kani K, Park E, Landgraf R. The extracellular domains of ErbB3 retain high ligand binding affinity at endosome pH and in the locked conformation. Biochemistry. 2005 Dec 6; 44(48):15842-57. View in: PubMed

Kani K, Warren CM, Kaddis CS, Loo JA, Landgraf R. Oligomers of ERBB3 have two distinct interfaces that differ in their sensitivity to disruption by heregulin. J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 4; 280(9):8238-47. View in: PubMed