William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.


Dr. Nelson is the Marion I. Knott Professor of Oncology and Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. He currently holds Professorships in Oncology, Medicine, Pharmacology, Pathology, Radiation Oncology, Urology, and Environmental Health Sciences, as well as adjunct appointments at the Howard University School of Medicine and the Taipei Medical College.

Dr. Nelson’s laboratory discovered one of the first genes subject to epigenetic silencing in human cancer, GSTP1, inactivated in nearly all prostate cancer cases. GSTP1 DNA methylation assays approved by the US Food and Drug Administration serve as adjuncts for prostate cancer diagnosis, the first epigenetic laboratory tests in common use. Further work on epigenetic gene silencing has led to the nomination and credentialing of the 5-meC ‘reader’ protein MBD2 as a new drug target for cancer prevention and treatment.

In addition, working with longtime collaborators Angelo M. DeMarzo, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Elizabeth A. Platz, William B. Isaacs, and others, Dr. Nelson’s research has transformed understanding of the earliest steps in prostate carcinogenesis. The team has identified the major precursor to prostate cancer, ‘proliferative inflammatory atrophy,’ implicated DNA topoisomerases in generation of somatic genome translocations in prostate cancer cells, indicted heterocyclic amine carcinogens from overcooked meats in pathogenesis of some prostate cancers, and highlighted intra-glandular spread of invasive adenocarcinoma as a common mimic of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia.

Outside of Johns Hopkins, Dr. Nelson is a recognized leader in cancer research, organizing national and international meetings in cancer health disparities, cancer prevention, and prostate cancer. He serves on the Board and as a Scientific Advisor for the V Foundation, as Chair of the Board of the Break Through Cancer Foundation, as a Scientific Co-Chair for Stand Up 2 Cancer, and on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He also works as Executive Editor of Cancer Today, and as a Senior Editor of Cancer Research. Owner of twelve issued patents, he is a co-founder of Digital Harmonics, Brahm Astra Therapeutics, and DH Cytoacoustics, and a Board Member of Armis Biopharma®.