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Kathryn Hacker Gessner, MD, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and urologist who specializes in taking care of patients with genitourinary cancers and runs a translational research lab.

Assistant Professor, Urology
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Genetics

Area of Interest

Dr. Gessner is a laboratory-based surgeon-scientist whose research focuses on the genetics of bladder and kidney cancer. Clinically, Dr. Gessner takes care of patients with genitourinary malignancies.

The Gessner laboratory is interested in understanding genomic and molecular alterations driving progression of early cancerous lesions to invasive disease. We are also interested in how the intratumoral heterogeneity of these alterations impacts our ability to not only treat these cancers, but also accurately risk-stratify patients to determine optimal treatment approaches.

Clinically, we recognize that some small renal masses or non-muscle invasive bladder cancer progress quickly to advanced disease, while others demonstrate a more indolent disease course. Through a combination of spatial transcriptomic analysis and functional validation approaches, we hope to better understand the factors driving progression of bladder and kidney cancers and improve outcomes for patients through early intervention or targeted therapies.

Find publications on PubMed 

Awards and Honors

  • American Society of Clinical Investigation Emerging-Generation Award, 2024
  • Young Investigator Award, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, 2023
  • Tomasello Family Women Who Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2023
  • Pope Clinical Trainee Award, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2023
  • John Quale Travel Fellow, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, 2022
  • Resident of the Year Award, UNC Department of Urology, 2018
  • Gertrude B. Elion Mentored Medical Student Research Award, Triangle Community Foundation, 2013
  • Dartmouth Athletics “Wearer of the Green” Inductee, Dartmouth College, 2009
  • Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-America Team, Crew All-American, 2007
  • Florence Fletcher Charles Botany Prize, Dartmouth College, 2007
  • Richter Memorial Fund Award, Dartmouth College, 2006

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Headshot of Kate Gessner.