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
  • 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 Laboratroy
  • Sarcoma Program at UCF
  • 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."

he 2012 Caring for Carcinoid Foundation-AACR Grant for Carcinoid Tumor and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Research application you submitted was approved for funding.  This decision was based on the relevance of your application to the mission of both organizations and a belief that your project will add significantly to 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.

Most recent publications from a total of 39
  1. Walker EJ, Simko JP, Nakakura EK, Ko AH. A patient with cholangiocarcinoma demonstrating pathologic complete response to chemotherapy: exploring the role of neoadjuvant therapy in biliary tract cancer. J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 Dec; 5(6):E88-95. View in PubMed
  2. Van Loon K, Zhang L, Keiser J, Carrasco C, Glass K, Ramirez MT, Bobiak S, Nakakura EK, Venook AP, Shah MH, Bergsland EK. Bone metastases and skeletal-related events from neuroendocrine tumors. Endocr Connect. 2014 Nov 27. View in PubMed
  3. Bergsland EK, Nakakura EK. Neuroendocrine tumors of unknown primary: is the primary site really not known? JAMA Surg. 2014 Sep 1; 149(9):889-90. View in PubMed
  4. Tempero MA, Malafa MP, Behrman SW, Benson AB, Casper ES, Chiorean EG, Chung V, Cohen SJ, Czito B, Engebretson A, Feng M, Hawkins WG, Herman J, Hoffman JP, Ko A, Komanduri S, Koong A, Lowy AM, Ma WW, Merchant NB, Mulvihill SJ, Muscarella P, Nakakura EK, Obando J, Pitman MB, Reddy S, Sasson AR, Thayer SP, Weekes CD, Wolff RA, Wolpin BM, Burns JL, Freedman-Cass DA. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma, version 2.2014. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2014 Aug; 12(8):1083-93. View in PubMed
  5. Nakakura EK. Time to put another surgical dogma to sleep? JAMA Surg. 2014 May; 149(5):466. View in PubMed
  6. Nakakura EK. Home, sweet home, after surgery. JAMA Surg. 2014 Mar 1; 149(3):251. View in PubMed
  7. Ducker GS, Atreya CE, Simko JP, Hom YK, Matli MR, Benes CH, Hann B, Nakakura EK, Bergsland EK, Donner DB, Settleman J, Shokat KM, Warren RS. Incomplete inhibition of phosphorylation of 4E-BP1 as a mechanism of primary resistance to ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitors. Oncogene. 2014 Mar 20; 33(12):1590-600. View in PubMed
  8. Wang SC, Fidelman N, Nakakura EK. Management of well-differentiated gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors metastatic to the liver. Semin Oncol. 2013 Feb; 40(1):69-74. View in PubMed
  9. Nakakura EK. Reply to P.H. Sugarbaker. J Clin Oncol. 2013 Jan 20; 31(3):397-8. View in PubMed
  10. Webb EM, Wang ZJ, Westphalen AC, Nakakura EK, Coakley FV, Yeh BM. Can CT features differentiate between inferior vena cava leiomyosarcomas and primary retroperitoneal masses? AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2013 Jan; 200(1):205-9. View in PubMed
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