Department of Surgery »  Faculty »  General Surgery »  Eric Nakakura, M.D., Ph.D.

Eric Nakakura, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of General Surgery

Contact Information

Academic Office
(415) 353-9296 Direct Line
(415) 353-9294 Academic Assistant
(415) 353-9695 Fax
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  • 1986-90 University of California, San Diego B.S.  Bioengineering
  • 1990-95 Stanford University School of Medicine M.D.
  • 1995-96 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Intern  General Surgery
  • 1996-03 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Resident  General Surgery
  • 2001 John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University  General Surgery
  • 2003-04 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Fellow  Surgical Oncology
  • 1998-01 Johns Hopkins University Ph.D.  Cellular and Molecular Medicine
  • American Board of Surgery, 2004
  • GI Oncology Program
  • Member, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Surgical Oncology Laboratory
  • Sarcoma Program at UCSF
  • Concurrent EGFR and mTOR blockade in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
  • Early detection of neuroendocrine tumors
  • Neuroendocrine (NE) tumors of the gastrointestinal (GI) Tract
  • Targeted therapy for treatment of neuroendocrine tumors
  • The role of proendocrine transcription factors and signaling pathways in normal and neoplastic gut
  • Translational studies of cancers of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract

Dr. Eric Nakakura is a cancer surgeon who specializes in tumors of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, and gastrointestinal tract.  He also treats soft tissue sarcomas, including tumors of the retroperitoneum, trunk and extremities.  At the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, he participates in the management of complex gastrointestinal tract cancers, soft tissue sarcomas and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors, including carcinoid and islet cell tumors.

Dr. Nakakura earned a medical degree at Stanford Medical School and a doctorate degree in cellular and molecular medicine at the Johns Hopkins University.  He completed a residency in general surgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and was a specialist registrar in surgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England.  He completed a fellowship in surgical oncology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.  Dr. Nakakura, an assistant professor of surgery at UCSF, studies endocrine differentiation in gut and gastrointestinal tumors and cancer stem cells. Highly respected by his peers, Dr. Nakakura was named to the list of U.S. News "America's Top Doctors," a distinction reserved for the top 1% of physicians in the nation for a given specialty.

Dr. Nakakura was recently awarded the 2012 Caring for Carcinoid Foundation-AACR Grant for Carcinoid Tumor and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Research based on the foundation's belief that his research would "significantly increase the understanding of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors."

Neuroendocrine (NE) tumors of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract frequently metastasize. Surgery is often not possible for patients with advanced disease, and current therapies are ineffective for shrinking tumors and durable palliation of debilitating hormonally-mediated symptoms. Dr. Nakakura and his colleagues have as a  long-term goal is to elucidate the transcriptional and signaling events critical to the pathogenesis of NE tumors of the GI tract, which can identify novel targets for diagnosis and treatment.

Developmental biology provides important clues and Dr. Nakakura and his fellow scientists have found that the same transcription factors and signaling pathways that function in the normal development of endocrine cells throughout the body also act to regulate NE tumor hormone production and growth, as well as metastasis. Their findings that conserved pathways of NE differentiation function in cancer have also shed important insight into normal gut endocrine cell development.

The group has ongoing studies to evaluate the role of proendocrine transcription factors and signaling pathways in normal and neoplastic gut using in vivo and in vitro model systems. In addition, Dr. Nakakura has leveraged his unique skills as a surgical oncologist to develop novel NE and other gastrointestinal cancer xenografts and cell lines, invaluable resources to the entire research community.

This work is complemented by studies of human GI NE tumors and of clinical studies of patients suffering from this disease. Dr. Nakakura is also active in bench-to-bedside (translational) studies aimed at earlier detection of NE tumors at at time when there is still the possibility of surgical resection. He is also investigating new and novel therapies for patients with advanced disease who have inoperable tumors.

  1. Nakakura EK, McCabe SM, Zheng B, Shorthouse RA, Scheiner TM, Blank G, Jardieu PM, Morris RE. A non-lymphocyte-depleting monoclonal antibody to the adhesion molecule LFA-1 (CD11a) prevents sensitization to alloantigens and effectively prolongs the survival of heart allografts Transplant Proc, 1993;25(1):809-12.
  2. Nakakura EK, McCabe SM, Zheng B, Shorthouse RA, Scheiner TM, Blank G, Jardieu PM, Morris RE. Potent and effective prolongation by anti-LFA-1 monoclonal antibody monotherapy of non-primarily vascularized heart allograft survival in mice without T cell depletion. Transplantation, Feb/1993;55(2):412-7.
  3. Nakakura EK, Shorthouse RA, Zheng B, McCabe SM, Jardieu PM, Morris RE. Long-term survival of solid organ allografts by brief anti-lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 monoclonal antibody monotherapy. Transplantation, Sep/15/1996;62(5):547-52.
  4. Nakakura EK, Watkins DN, Schuebel KE, Sriuranpong V, Borges MW, Nelkin BD, Ball DW. Mammalian Scratch: a neural-specific Snail family transcriptional repressor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Mar/27/2001;98(7):4010-5.
  5. Nakakura EK, Watkins DN, Sriuranpong V, Borges MW, Nelkin BD, Ball DW. Mammalian Scratch participates in neuronal differentiation in P19 embryonal carcinoma cells. Brain Res Mol Brain Res, Nov/1/2001;95(1-2):162-6.
  6. Sriuranpong V, Borges MW, Strock CL, Nakakura EK, Watkins DN, Blaumueller CM, Nelkin BD, Ball DW. Notch signaling induces rapid degradation of achaete-scute homolog 1. Mol Cell Biol, May/2002;22(9):3129-39.
  7. Nakakura EK, Sriuranpong VR, Kunnimalaiyaan M, Hsiao EC, Schuebel KE, Borges MW, Jin N, Collins BJ, Nelkin BD, Chen H, Ball DW. Regulation of neuroendocrine differentiation in gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor cells by Notch signaling. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Jul/2005;90(7):4350-6.
  8. Strock CJ, Park JI, Nakakura EK, Bova GS, Isaacs JT, Ball DW, Nelkin BD. Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 activity controls cell motility and metastatic potential of prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res, Aug/1/2006;66(15):7509-15.
  9. Horvai AE, Schaefer JT, Nakakura EK, O'Donnell RJ. Immunostaining for peroxisome proliferator gamma distinguishes dedifferentiated liposarcoma from other retroperitoneal sarcomas. Mod Pathol, Jan/18/2008.
  10. Guo L, Clark JP, Warren RS, Nakakura EK. Compound muscle action potentials and spontaneous electromyography can be used to identify and protect the femoral nerve during resection of large retroperitoneal tumors. Ann Surg Oncol, Jun/2008;15(6):1594-9.
  11. Wang YC, Gallego-Arteche E, Iezza G, Yuan X, Matli M, Choo SP, Zuraek M, Gogia R, Lynn F, German M, Bergsland E, Donner D, Warren R, Nakakura E. Homeodomain transcription factor Nkx2.2 functions in immature cells to control enteroendocrine differentiation and is expressed in gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors. Endocr Relat Cancer, Nov/5/2008.
  12. Ruan DT, Warren RS, Moalem J, Chung KW, Griffin AC, Shen W, Duh QY, Nakakura E, Donner DB, Khanafshar E, Weng J, Clark OH, Kebebew E. Mitogen-inducible gene-6 expression correlates with survival and is an independent predictor of recurrence in BRAF(V600E) positive papillary thyroid cancers. Surgery, Dec/2008;144(6):908-13; discussion 913-4.
  13. Wang SC, Parekh JR, Zuraek MB, Venook AP, Bergsland EK, Warren RS, Nakakura EK. Identification of unknown primary tumors in patients with neuroendocrine liver metastases. Archives of Surgery , (In Press) , 2009;To be determined(To be determined):To be determined.