Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Kurt R. Weiss, MD

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Musculoskeletal Oncology Laboratory

Education & Training

  • MD, Thomas Jefferson University Medical College, Philadelphia, PA
  • Residency: University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Fellowship: University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Representative Publications

Refereed Articles

  1. Priedigkeit N, Watters RJ, Lucas PC, Basudan A, Bhargava R, Horne W, Kolls JK, Fang Z, Rosenzweig MQ, Brufsky AM, Weiss KR, Oesterreich S, Lee AV. Exome-capture RNA sequencing of decade-old breast cancers and matched decalcified bone metastases. JCI Insight. 2017 Sep 7;2(17). pii: 95703. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.95703.
  2. Yu S, Fourman MS, Mahjoub A, Mandell JB, Crasto JA, Greco NG, Weiss KR. Lung cells support osteosarcoma cell migration and survival. BMC Cancer. 2017 Jan 25;17(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3047-5. PMID: 28122543.
  3. Adamik J, Jin S, Sun Q, Zhang P, Weiss KR,  Anderson JL, Silbermann R, Roodman GD, and Galson DL. EZH2 or HDAC1 Inhibition Reverses Multiple Myeloma-Induced Epigenetic Suppression of Osteoblast Differentiation. Mol Cancer Res. published 23 January 2017, 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-16-0242-T.
  4. Mu X, Agarwal R, March D, Rothenberg A, Voigt C, Tebbets J, Huard J, and Weiss K. Notch Signaling Mediates Skeletal Muscle Atrophy in Cancer Cachexia Caused by Osteosarcoma. Sarcoma. Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3758162, 12 pages
  5. Mu X, Patel S, Mektepbayeva D, Mahjoub A, Huard J, Weiss K. Retinal Targets ALDH Positive Cancer Stem Cell and Alters the Phenotype of Highly Metastatic Osteosarcoma Cells. Sarcoma. 2015;2015:784954. doi: 10.1155/2015/784954. Epub 2015 Dec 24. PubMed PMID: 26819566; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4706975.
  6. Wang P, Bahreini A, Gyanchandani R, Lucas P, Hartmaier RJ, Watters RJ, Jonnalagadda AR, Trejo Bittar HE, Berg A, Hamilton RL, Kurland BF, Weiss K, Mathew A, Leone JP, Davidson NE, Nikiforova MN, Brufsky AM, Ambros TF, Stern AM, Puhalla S, Lee AW, Oesterreich S. Sensitive detection of mono- and polyclonal ESR1 mutations in primary tumors, metastatic lesions and cell free DNA of breast cancer patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Oct 23. pii: clincanres.1534.2015. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26500237.
  7. Burgess M, Gorantla V, Weiss K, Tawbi H. Immunotherapy in Sarcoma: Future Horizons. Curr Oncol Rep. 2015 Nov;17(11):52. doi: 10.1007/s11912-015-0476-7. PubMed PMID: 26423769.
  8. Pan TJ, Pantanowitz L, Weiss KR. High-Grade Leiomyosarcoma Arising in a Previously Replanted Limb. Case Rep Oncol Med. 2015;2015:172603. doi: 10.1155/2015/172603. Epub 2015 Aug 23. PubMed PMID: 26366310; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4561096.     
  9. Even J, Gasbarro G, Pantanowitz L, Kang J, Weiss K. An Unusual Cause of Lumbar Radiculopathy. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 Jul;473(7):2431-6. doi: 10.1007/s11999-015-4284-z. Epub 2015 Apr 10. PubMed PMID: 25859654; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4457776.
  10. Mu X, Brynien D, Weiss KR. The HDAC inhibitor Vorinostat diminishes the in vitro metastatic behavior of Osteosarcoma cells. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:290368. doi: 9. 1155/2015/290368. Epub 2015 Feb 17. PubMed PMID: 25785263; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4346695.
  11. Weiss KR. "To B(MP-2) or Not To B(MP-2)" or "Much Ado About Nothing": Are Orthobiologics in Tumor Surgery Worth the Risks? Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Jul 1;21(13):2889-91. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-3069. Epub 2015 Jan 21. PubMed PMID: 25609065.
  12. Goodman MA and Weiss KR. Surgical Approach To Metastatic Bone Disease. Operative Techniques in Orthopaedics, June 2014; doi:10.1053/j.oto.2014.02.009.
  13. Friel N, Rothenberg A, Weiss K. Pseudomyogenic Hemangioendothelioma of Bone Initially Managed as Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis: A Case Report. Journal of Cancer Therapy. 2014 March 31; 5(4):363-368.
  14. Greco N, Schott T, Mu X, Rothenberg A, Voigt C, McGough RL 3rd, Goodman M, Huard J, Weiss KR. ALDH Activity Correlates with Metastatic Potential in Primary Sarcomas of Bone. J Cancer Ther. 2014 Mar 31;5(4):331-338. PubMed PMID: 25328803; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4200537.
  15. Mu X, Sultankulov B, Agarwal R, Mahjoub A, Schott T, Greco N, Huard J, Weiss K. Chick embryo extract demethylates tumor suppressor genes in osteosarcoma cells. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2014 Mar;472(3):865-73. doi: 10.1007/s11999-013-3104-6. PubMed PMID: 23761177; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3916611.
  16. Mu X, Isaac C, Greco N, Huard J, Weiss K. Notch Signaling is Associated with ALDH Activity and an Aggressive Metastatic Phenotype in Murine Osteosarcoma Cells. Front Oncol. 2013 Jun 11;3:143. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00143. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 23805413; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3678113.
  17. Mu X, Isaac C, Schott T, Huard J, Weiss K. Rapamycin Inhibits ALDH Activity, Resistance to Oxidative Stress, and Metastatic Potential in Murine Osteosarcoma Cells. Sarcoma. 2013;2013:480713. doi: 10.1155/2013/480713. Epub 2013 Feb 14. PubMed PMID: 23476113; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3586506.
  18. Thorpe SW, Goodman MA, Weiss KR, McGough RL. Expanding the Scope of the Orthopaedic Oncology Practice: Our experience With Resection and Reconstruction of Chest Wall Tumors. Current Orthopaedic  Practice, 23(5):467-472, September/October 2012.
  19. Weiss KR, Biau DJ, Bhumbra R, Griffin AM, Blackstein ME, Chung P, Catton C, O'Sullivan B, Ferguson PC, Wunder JS. Axial Skeletal Location Predicts Poor Outcome in Ewing's Sarcoma: A Single Institution Experience. Sarcoma. 2011;2011:395180. doi: 10.1155/2011/395180. Epub 2011 Nov 24. PubMed PMID: 22190863; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3236362.
  20. Thorpe SW, Weiss KR, Goodman MA, Heyl AE, McGough RL. Should Aggressive Surgical Local Control Be Attempted in All Patients with Metastatic or Pelvic Ewing's Sarcoma? Sarcoma. 2012;2012:953602. doi: 10.1155/2012/953602. Epub 2012 Mar 4. PubMed PMID: 22550427; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3329708.
  21. Weiss KR, Bhumbra R, Biau DJ, Griffin AM, Deheshi B, Wunder JS, Ferguson PC. Fixation of pathological humeral fractures by the cemented plate technique.J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2011 Aug;93(8):1093-7. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.93B8.26194. PubMed PMID: 21768635.


Books, and Book Chapters

  1. Osteosarcoma- Biology, Behavior, and Mechanisms. Kanya Honoki and Kurt Richard Weiss (eds).  InTech, Rijeka, Croatia, April, 2017. 
  2. Weiss KR, Bhumbra R, Ferguson PC, O’Sullivan B, and Wunder JS. Chapter 126-Radiation in Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Pre- or post-operative. Evidence Based Orthopedics. Blackwell, 2012. Bhandari (ed).
  3. Liu TS, Weiss KR, Fu FH, Huard J. Gene therapy and tissue engineering in orthopaedic surgery. Instr Course Lect. 2006; 55:597-611. Review. PubMed PMID: 16958493.
  4. Weiss KR, Huard J, Liu T, Fu F. Chapter 16- Gene Therapy in the Treatment Of Knee Disorders.  Surgery of the Knee, Fourth Edition.  Insall and Scott (ed).


View a list of Dr. Weiss’ publications here


Research Interests

Dr. Weiss directs the Department’s Musculoskeletal Oncology Laboratory, a basic science laboratory dedicated to the study of sarcomas--cancerous tumors that arise in the musculoskeletal tissues. He holds a K08 Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute to develop a translational sarcoma research program at the University of Pittsburgh. As a bone cancer survivor himself, Dr. Weiss brings passion and enthusiasm to the laboratory, clinic, and operating room. He also has an R21 grant from the NCI to study the poorly understood phenomenon of Sarcoma-Associated Cachexia. Through the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), he is also a proud collaborator with several scientists who are trying to understand how other forms of cancer, particularly breast cancer, spread to and destroy the bone. He has served on the NCI Molecular Oncology Study Section.  

Dr. Weiss has received many accolades which include: 

  • 2016-17 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Leadership Fellows Program
  • 2015 Pittsburgh Business Time Health Care Heroes Award Winner
  • 2013 University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Junior Scholar Award
  • Named one of Pittsburgh’s “40 Under 40” by Pittsburgh Magazine in 2013
  • 2012 Courage Award from the Sarcoma Foundation of America

He is a Founding Member of the Musculoskeletal Oncology Research Initiative, Pittsburgh Cure Sarcoma, and the Pittsburgh Center for Bone and Mineral Research. He is on the editorial staffs of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, BioMed Central Cancer, and Frontiers In Surgery. He reviews for Sarcoma, Cancer Research, International Journal of Cancer, and other journals. He has been accepted to the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review Early Career Reviewer program. He is a member of the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS), for which he serves on the Board of Directors.

Research Grants

Current Grant Support:

Exploring Sarcoma Metastatic Potential
09/20/2013 - 08/31/2018
Role:  PI
Level of Funding:   $153,200
Supporting Agency:  NIH

The hypothesis is that ALDH-high cells will display enhance metastatic potential compared with ALDH-low cells.  We also hypothesize that both disulfiram and MK-0752 will decrease the metastatic potentials of OS cells in vitro.

Exploring Mechanisms of Sarcoma and Aging Associated Cachexia
05/01/2016 – 6/30/2018
Role:  Co-PI
Level of Funding:  $25,000
Supporting Agency:  Aging Institute/University of Pittsburgh Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology Seed Grant Program

The overall objective of this proposal is to investigate SAC and AAC and gain insights into the molecular pathways common to both forms of cachexia.

Exploring the Mechanisms of Sarcoma-Associated Cachexia
04/01/2017 – 03/31/2019
Role:  PI
Level of Funding:  $124,400
Supporting Agency:  National Institutes of Health

Cachexia is characterized by weight loss due to the progressive decrease of skeletal muscle and affects 50% of cancer patients. Sarcomas are malignancies that arise from connective tissues. Virtually nothing is known regarding the mechanisms of sarcoma-associated cachexia (SAC). This R21 proposal will explore the mechanistic etiology of SAC with human sarcoma cell lines and xenografts.

Investigating the Real-Time Intraoperative Use of Indocyanine Green Dye Angiography in the Surgical Removal of Sarcoma
04/01/2017 – 03/31/2018
Role:  Mentor
Level of Funding:  $5,000
Supporting Agency:  American Medical Association         

We plan to investigate whether ICG can be used intraoperatively during a tumor resection surgery to help guide surgeons in completely excising tumor with negative margins and enhanced accuracy.  The ability to identify and remove all tumor, resulting in negative margins and lowering risk of local recurrence would be a powerful surgical tool that could dramatically improve treatment for cancer patients.

Targeting the retinoid acid pathway: a new therapeutic strategy for IDH ½-mutant chondrosarcomas
06/01/2017 – 05/31/2018
Role:  Co-I
Level of Funding:  $4,486
Supporting Agency:  Sarcoma Foundation of America     

Our work will determine whether retinoic acid is an effective treatment for IDH1/2-mutant chondrosarcoma, a cancer for which systemic therapies have remained elusive. Notably, retinoic acid is already in clinical trials for the treatment of IDH-mutant gliomas, and thus could be rapidly translated to trials in chondrosarcoma patients.

Characterization and Validation of Sarcoma Patient Derived Cell Lines
07/01/2018 – 06/30/2019
Role:  PI
Level of Funding:  $15,000
Supporting Agency:  Shadyside Hospital Foundation       

In this proposed project, we aim to complete the final validation and characterization for the unique 35 cell lines that our team has generated from the MOTOR bank and the establishment of new procedures to validate cancer cell lines.

Identification of Novel Targets for Pulmonary Metastatses of Osteosarcoma
07/01/2018 – 06/30/2019
Role:  PI
Level of Funding:  $18,417
Supporting Agency:  Shadyside Hospital Foundation       

There are treatments aimed at targeting the primary tumor, however we are lacking knowledge as to why the patients develop lung metastases and how to effectively treat them. This is study is significant as there has been very limited research specifically to understand and characterize which pathways or transcriptional programs could be involved in the pulmonary metastases of pediatric patient samples.