UPMC’s Weiss Awarded NIH Grant to Establish Sarcoma Lab

By: Jennifer C. Yates

Few understand the importance of cancer research better than Kurt Weiss, whose own life was saved from sarcoma after enrolling in a clinical trial. Now Weiss, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt, is pushing such research forward with the help of  a highly competitive grant from the National Institutes of Health. Known as a K08 grant, the $827,280 five-year funding will help Dr. Weiss’ career as a translational scientist by carving out time from his demanding clinical schedule to establish a laboratory program in sarcoma research.

As a teenager, Dr. Weiss was diagnosed with a life-threatening sarcoma in his leg that had spread to other parts of his body. His leg would eventually be amputated due to the cancer, but the experience led him to study medicine and to work with cancer patients.
Dr. Weiss works alongside Mark Goodman, M.D., a visiting associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt and section chief of orthopaedics, the same clinician who treated him.
“Sarcoma is a rare disease, and I hope I can touch the lives of patients through my work in the lab and at the bedside the way people like Dr. Goodman have for me,” Dr. Weiss said.
Dr. Weiss is the director of the Cancer Stem Cell Lab within the Stem Cell Research Center run by Johnny Huard, Ph.D. A graduate of Pitt’s Orthopaedic Residency Program in 2009, Dr. Weiss also was recently named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list.