News Release

Improving bladder cancer trials and treatments goal of new $6 million CPRIT recruit

Widely respected genitourinary cancer translational scientist joins Houston Methodist

Grant and Award Announcement

Houston Methodist

Keith Syson Chan, Ph.D.

image: Genitourinary cancer translational scientist Keith Syson Chan, Ph.D., is joining Houston Methodist, where he will serve as Director of Translational Research in the Department of Urology and Program Lead of Innovative Therapeutics in the Dr. Mary and Ron Neal Cancer Center, thanks to a $6 million recruitment from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. view more 

Credit: Courtesy of Cedars-Sinai

HOUSTON-(Dec. 8, 2022) – With a focus on expediting the development of early-phase clinical trials and enhancing chemoimmunotherapy responses in bladder cancer, genitourinary cancer translational scientist Keith Syson Chan, Ph.D., is joining Houston Methodist thanks to a $6 million Established Investigator recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).


Chan will be Director of Translational Research in the Department of Urology and Program Lead of Innovative Therapeutics in the Dr. Mary and Ron Neal Cancer Center. He also will have an appointment as a professor in the Houston Methodist Research Institute. Joining Houston Methodist in December, Chan will be accompanied by his research scientist Fotis Nikolo, Ph.D., who will have an appointment as an assistant research professor, and seven other lab trainees.


“Thanks to this generous grant from CPRIT, Dr. Chan will be afforded an opportunity to expand his research into bladder, pancreatic and skin cancer, adding to Texas’ growing cancer research capabilities,” said Jenny C. Chang, M.D., director of Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center and Emily Hermann Chair in Cancer Research. “Coming to Houston Methodist from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Chan is a widely respected genitourinary cancer translational scientist, renowned for his research and translational skills. As a key player in our cancer center and as a professor in the research institute, Dr. Chan will mentor the next generation of cancer researchers, which will undoubtedly expand our research capacity.”


“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Keith Chan to Texas and grateful to CPRIT for their support,” said Kathleen C. Kobashi, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S., chair of the Department of Urology at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Dr. Chan’s work studies how drug-induced immunogenic cell death could enhance chemoimmunosensitivity and how local and distant microenvironments impact the metastatic cascade in advanced bladder cancer. These findings will readily provide targets to launch early-phase clinical trials by our clinical colleagues, bridging an important gap between the laboratory and clinic. His arrival also will be instrumental in further fortifying the partnership between urology and the cancer center to advance medicine and mentor promising scientists.”


Among Chan’s goals, he plans to:

  • continue elevating the scientific level of his research program, and concurrently establish synergistic collaborations at Houston Methodist and the Texas Medical Center to generate clinically significant and high-impact research discoveries;
  • establish a Center for Tumor Microenvironment Spatial Profiling in Genitourinary Oncology (GU) to promote collaboration of GU oncology and urology faculty at Houston Methodist by integrating a multidisciplinary research approach;
  • leverage Houston Methodist’s clinical infrastructure to translate basic discoveries into investigator-initiated trials (IITs) to benefit cancer patients, which is the primary goal of the Neal Cancer Center’s Innovative Therapeutics Program, and support correlative science components of IITs from urology and Neal Cancer Center to understand mechanisms and generate new hypotheses;
  • translate discoveries into commercialization by leveraging CPRIT’s high-throughput screening facilities and Houston Methodist’s translational research initiative;
  • and help build the academic training reputation of urology and the Neal Cancer Center by participating in or co-leading the application of T32 or CPRIT training grants, and the Society of Urologic Oncology accredited residency and fellowship program in urologic oncology.


“It is a tremendous honor to be nominated by Houston Methodist leadership and a humbling experience to receive this CPRIT award,” Chan said. “Such extraordinary resources will spur bench-to-bedside research for benefiting cancer patients.”


Chan received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, his B.Sc. in Life Sciences from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and was a postdoctoral fellow in cancer stem cells and immune evasion at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University in California. Chan most recently comes to Houston Methodist from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was a professor of academic pathology and previously was a tenured associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (STaR) Center at the Baylor College of Medicine.



For more information:

CPRIT Scholar Program’s Recruitment of Established Investigators Award, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; awarded Nov. 16, 2022; $5,999,198 grant (RR230010); PI: Keith Chan, Ph.D., Houston Methodist Research Institute;


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