Omer Kucuk, MD


Omer Kucuk, MD, who started practicing at Emory in 2008, is Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Chief, Genitourinary Medical Oncology


  • Hematology (Board certified since 1984)
  • Medical Oncology (Board certified since 1989)
  • Internal Medicine (Board certified since 1978)

Areas of Expertise

  • Genitourinary Cancers
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Nutrition
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Chemoprevention

Groundbreaking Research and Clinical Trials

Dr. Kucuk brings to Emory an impressive track record of groundbreaking research in cancer prevention through nutritional components. He has been conducting clinical trials with lycopene and soy isoflavones in combination with standard therapy for prostate cancer since 1996. Nutrition and cancer therapy is Dr. Kucuk's primary research focus.

Carotenoids, isoflavones, zinc, selenium, and folic acid are among the cancer preventing compounds found in vegetables and fruits, says Dr. Kucuk. Our current investigations focus on the effects of micronutrients and phytochemicals on biomarkers of cell growth, differentiation, inflammation and oxidative stress in a variety of cancers.

Dr. Kucuk conducted the first clinical trials with lycopene and soy isoflavones in prostate cancer and was the first to report the benefits of lycopene and soy isoflavones in treatment of prostate cancer patients. He reported that lycopene and soy isoflavones have efficacy in patients with hormone-naïve as well as hormone-refractory prostate cancer.

He was the first to report the sensitization of prostate cancer cells to chemotherapy and radiation therapy by soy isoflavones and the first to report that soy isoflavones prevent the adverse effects of radiation in prostate cancer patients.

These studies were done in collaboration with other investigators at Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. Future studies at Emory Winship Cancer Institute will continue to investigate the role of soy isoflavones and other nutritional compounds alone or in combination with chemotherapy and radiation in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Dr. Kucuk is conducting innovative clinical trials to investigate new approaches to prostate and bladder cancer therapy using combinations of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and nutritional agents.

He has also been very active internationally with collaborative research projects and international conferences conducted with scientists in Turkey, Israel, Brazil and Norway. He organized the First International Congress on Nutrition and Cancer in Antalya, Turkey in May 2008. He was also the first to report that dietary lycopene intake prevents leiomyoma in the Japanese quail in collaboration with veterinary researchers at Firat University, Elazig, Turkey.

The Road to Emory: Education

  • Medical School: Hacettepe University Medical School in Ankara, Turkey, 1975
  • Internship: St. Francis Hospital, Evanston, IL, 1976
  • Residency/Fellowship: St. Francis Hospital, Evanston, IL, 1978
  • Fellowship (hematology and oncology): Northwestern University Medical School (Northwestern Memorial Hospital), Chicago, IL, 1981

Dr. Kucuk comes to Emory from the Karmanos Cancer Center at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he was a professor and co-leader of the population sciences and prevention program and member of genitourinary and head and neck cancer multidisciplinary groups. Before joining the medical staff at Wayne State University, Dr. Kucuk served as professor and researcher at the University Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu between 1991 and 1995 where he continued to work on diet and cancer and reported for the first time that dietary intake of antioxidant micronutrients prevent mutagen sensitivity of blood lymphocytes.


  • Organizational Leadership Memberships
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • American Urological Association
  • Society of Basic Urological Research


  • College Teaching Award: Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 2006
  • Faculty Research Excellence Award: Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 2000
  • President's Achievement Award For Community Research Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI, 2000

Major or Recent Publications

  • Dr. Kucuk has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, review articles and book chapters to his credit, and he is on the editorial boards of numerous publications, including the Cancer Detection and Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. He has published extensively on various nutrients in combination with chemotherapy and radiation. These include:
  • Seren S, Mutchnick M, Hutchinson D, Harmanci O, Bayraktar Y, Mutchnick S, Sahin K, Kucuk O. Potential role of lycopene as an adjunct to treatment of  hepatitis C and possible prevention of hepatocellular Carcinoma. Nutrition and Cancer 60(6):729-35, 2008.
  • Seren S, Lieberman R, Bayraktar UD, Heath E, Sahin K, Andic F, Kucuk O. Lycopene in cancer prevention and therapy. American Journal of Therapeutics 15:66-81, 2008.
  • Li Y, Kucuk O, Hussain M, Abrams J, Cher ML, Sarkar FH. Antitumor and antimetastatic activities of docetaxel are enhanced by genistein through regulation of osteoprotegerin/receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappaB (RANK)/receptor activator of nuclear factor kappaB ligand (RANKL)/matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) signalling in prostate cancer. Cancer Research 66:4816-4825, 2006.
  • Hussain M, Banerjee M, Sarkar FH, Djuric Z, Pollak MN, Doerge D, Fontana J, Chinni S, Davis J, Forman J, Wood DP, and Kucuk O. Soy isoflavones in the treatment of prostate cancer. Nutrition and Cancer 47:111-117, 2003.
  • Li Y, Che M, Bhagat S, Ellis KL, Kucuk O, Doerge DR, Abrams J, Cher ML, Sarkar FH. Regulation of Gene Expression and Inhibition of Experimental Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis by Dietary Genistein.  Neoplasia.  6:354-363, 2004.
  • Hillman GG, Yu Wang, Kucuk O, Che M, Doerge DR, Yudelev M, Joiner MC, Marples B, Forman JD, Sarkar FH. Genýsteýn potentýates ýnhýbýtýon of tumor growth by radýatýon ýn a prostate cancer orthotopýc model. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 3:1271-1279, 2004.


Dr. Kucuk, who speaks Turkish, was the only child of a family of tobacco farmers from a small town, Akhisar, in Western Turkey. His grandparents, also tobacco farmers, came to Akhisar from Drama, Greece, after the First World War. Although his parents and grandparents were tobacco farmers, they never smoked.

Dr. Kucuk moved to the United States in 1975 after graduating from Hacettepe University Medical School in Ankara, Turkey. He became interested in cancer prevention in 1984, when he first discovered that oxidation products of cholesterol have profound effects in cell mediated immunity, at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois.