Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD

Karen E. Knudsen Dr. Knudsen is the third director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Jefferson Health, an NCI-Designated Cancer Center since 1995. She was appointed enterprise director in January 2015 after having served as the deputy director and the founding member of the SKCC Prostate Cancer Program.

As the enterprise director of SKCC, Dr. Knudsen governs cancer research and cancer care across 14 hospitals within Jefferson Health, and reports directly to the CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.Under Dr. Knudsen’s leadership, SKCC was evaluated as “Outstanding” in its most recent NCI renewal, and was one of only four cancer centers to be ranked “Exceptional” in Community Outreach and Engagement. SKCC has significantly extended the Center’s reach since 2015, now delivering cancer care in three Advanced Care Hubs outside the main academic site and offering clinical trials in a two-state region.

Prior to taking on the directorship, Dr. Knudsen also served as the vice provost of Thomas Jefferson University, overseeing basic and clinical research at all six schools within the university. In addition to cancer center leadership, Dr. Knudsen serves as chair of the Department of Cancer Biology for Thomas Jefferson University, and holds the Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professorship. Given her translational research, Dr. Knudsen holds joint appointments in the departments of medical oncology, urology, and radiation oncology. Dr. Knudsen’s translational laboratory is highly active, and focuses on cell cycle and DNA repair regulation in prostate cancer. Her laboratory has generated discoveries that contributed to practice-changing clinical trials, including those targeting DNA repair defective cancers. At present, four investigator-initiated clinical trials have been activated based on discoveries in the Knudsen Laboratory.

Dr. Knudsen received her BS in Biology from the George Washington University, and her PhD from the University of California at San Diego, where she focused on cell cycle checkpoint control. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship training with Webster K. Cavenee studying hormone action and the impact of cell cycle dysregulation on prostate cancer progression. Dr. Knudsen served as tenured faculty at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine prior to recruitment to Thomas Jefferson University in 2007.

Dr. Knudsen has a greater than 20-year history of continuous funding from the NIH, and has expertise in elucidating the molecular basis of hormone-dependent cancer development and progression. Dr. Knudsen serves as an editor for several leading oncology journals, including as editor-in-chief for the American Association for Cancer Research's Molecular Cancer Research, and as an associate editor for Oncogene. Dr. Knudsen has received numerous awards for her accomplishments, including the Richard E. Weitzman Laureate Award from the Endocrine Society, the Sophie Yen Award for Distinguished Training in Translational Research, and the SWIU/SBUR Award for Excellence in Urologic Research. 

Dr. Knudsen has longstanding experience in cancer center leadership, and based on her expertise, serves on leading review, advisory, and elected panels for the Department of Defense, the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and NIH, including Parent Committee-A of the NCI. Dr. Knudsen led the Advanced Prostate Cancer Track for the ASCO-GU Program Steering Committee for the last two years, and is currently the Chair-Elect for ASCO-GU. Dr. Knudsen currently serves on the advisory boards of nine NCI-designated cancer centers. Dr. Knudsen also chairs the AACR Nominating Committee, and most recently, was asked to join the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors. She served as program chair for the 2017 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting.