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Profiles in Prostate Cancer: Ken Pienta, A lifetime of Service

Johns Hopkins Urology & Oncology Professor has always asked how can he serve

How do you serve the world and those around you? It’s a question that the Prostate Cancer Foundation was built on. Ken Pienta, M.D., and his family, are a perfect example of how to serve over generations. He is a professor of urology and oncology at Johns Hopkins and a PCF-funded researcher, and as he says to his children, “It doesn’t matter what you are, but you’re here to serve. You’re here to make the world a better place.”

It’s a lesson that he learned from his parents, WWII camp survivors and whose father wanted to be a doctor himself, told Ken from a very early age, “you’re going to be a doctor.” Growing up, he went through the stages of what he wanted to be when he grew up; firefighter, fighter pilot, policeman. But, with encouragement from his parents, he took his love of science and biology and became a doctor.

Among the many achievements that Ken has created was developing the Rapid Autopsy Program. He developed a relationship with his patients and asked them to donate their bodies when they passed away to see where the cancer had gone and how it might have killed them. He believes that it was one of the greatest gifts his patients could give to the world, and it has led to most of the major discoveries in prostate cancer over the last decade. Besides giving Ken new knowledge, it taught him how to better take care of people.

Now, Ken has passed down his parents’ lesson to be of service. His children are in various areas of work, but it all involves medicine and Ken’s father is proud of the family being of service to the world. Ken’s drive to be of service to treating and curing prostate cancer and helping cancer patients is what PCF has at its very core. And it is the idea behind the research funding we provide to Young Investigator and Challenge Award winners to continue ground-breaking cancer research that can help the world.