Scientists on Science

​Liquid Biopsies

Peter KuhnPeter Kuhn, PhD
University of Southern California

Peter Kuhn, formerly a physics professor at Stanford, co-leads one of the NIH Physical Sciences Oncology Centers, which is casting new light on how cancer spreads through the body. Partnering with oncologists and engineers, including faculty at the Keck School of Medicine and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Kuhn invented a method for detecting and characterizing cancer cells with a simple blood sample.

The minimally invasive, blood-based fluid biopsy test Kuhn developed differentiates circulating tumor cells from ordinary blood cells using a digital microscope and image-processing algorithm. The breakthrough holds the potential for identifying people at risk for other conditions as well, including a heart attack. He founded the company, Epic Sciences, to bring such precision diagnostic technology from the academic laboratory to the marketplace.

At the Scripps Research Institute, he established the translational science program. He previously served on the faculties of medicine and accelerator physics at Stanford University. As a scientist and entrepreneur, he has spent nearly two decades enabling and managing large-scale investigations that bring together interdisciplinary teams of physical, life and biomedical sciences researchers. Of the opportunity to expand his research and ongoing collaborations now that he is at USC, Kuhn said, “USC unites the best of the best, who all align on the vision of improving human health with scientific breakthroughs and bring outstanding scientific competencies to the table to make this vision a reality.”

A physicist by training, Kuhn has published more than 180 peer scientific articles and filed 16 patents.