Kenichi (Ken) Tamama, MD, PhD, FCAP
Assistant Professor of Pathology

Dr. Tamama is a member of the Division of Clinical Chemistry. He is the Director of the Toxicology Laboratory and the Director of Pathology Resident Training in Chemistry.
Office Location:
S737 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-648-9485
Lab Telephone: 412-383-9771


  • MD - Gunma University School of Medicine, Maebashi, Japan, 1995
  • PhD - Gunma University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Maebashi, Japan, 2001

Clinical Expertise

As a board certified clinical pathologist, I oversee Clinical Toxicology Laboratory in UPMC Clinical Laboratories and sign out Toxicology cases generated by GC-MS. As Director of Pathology Resident Training in Clinical Chemistry, Dr. Tamama is also in charge of Clinical Chemistry education in the Pathology Residency Program at UPMC. He is also working on the assay development of newly emerging drugs of abuse such as SPICE or BATHSALT.

Research Interests

Cell therapy with adult multipotential stromal cells or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is a promising approach against various diseases including nonhealing chronic wounds, as these cells promote angiogenesis and tissue regeneration, and exert immunomodulatory effects upon cell transplantation. Initially MSC differentiation and direct incorporation into regenerating tissues was speculated as a primary mechanism of MSC action; however, it has been realized that the strong paracrine capability of various growth factors and cytokines is a key mechanism of MSC-mediated wound healing and tissue regeneration. We are studying the molecular mechanisms that support strong paracrine machineries in MSC in order to maximize the regenerative effects of MSC-based therapeutics. One promising approach is to culture MSC in low oxygen condition, as the hypoxic condition promotes the production of angiogenic growth factors in the short term and delays replicative cell senescence in the long term. Another approach is to focus on EGFR signaling, as we have previously shown that the activation of EGFR signaling pathway promotes in vitro MSC expansion without compromising differentiation potentials, enhances the preservation of early progenitor MSCs, and increases the production of growth factors. Immuno-modulatory effect is another key mechanism of MSC-mediated tissue wound repair and tissue regeneration. Our latest data suggests that transcription factor early growth response gene-2 (EGR2) plays a key role in the regulation of immuno-modulatory effect of MSCs. We are also working on the signal transduction and therapeutic potentials of spheroidal aggregates of MSCs or MSC spheroids.


  • Diplomate of American Board of Pathology (CP)
  • Physicians License - PA, OH, CA, Japan


Clinical Chemistry

Honors and Awards

  • Wound Healing Society (WHS) Organogenesis Award Finalist, 2012
  • ACLPS Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award, 2007
  • NAVBO Junior Investigator Award, 2007
  • ASIP Trainee Travel Award and ASIP Young Pathologist Fellowship for Experimental Biology, 2007
  • ACLPS Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award , 2006
  • CAP Foundation Scholar Research (Salary support of US$25,000), 2005-2006
  • CP Web Case Winner, Pathology Resident Program, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
  • First place winner in Clinical Research at Retreat of Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
  • ACLPS Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award, 2005
  • CP Web Case Winner, Pathology Resident Program, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
  • ACLPS Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award, 2003
  • Fellowship of Japan-North America Medical Exchange Foundation, 2002
  • Fellowship of Japan Medical Education Foundation for clinical clerkship in U.K., 1994

Selected Publications

View Dr. Tamama's publications on PubMed

(* denotes corresponding authorship)

  • Cesarz Z, Tamama K* Spheroid culture of mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cell Int. In press.
  • Liu L, Wheeler SE, Rymer JA, Lower D, Zona J, Peck Palmer OM, Tamama K*. Ranitidine interference with standard amphetamine immunoassay. Clin Chim Acta. 2015 Jan 1;438:307-8.
  • Mika LM, Guyette MK, Pillage G, Tamama K*. Discrepant Glucose Results between Capillary and Venous Blood in an 83-Year-Old White Man. Lab Med Fall 2014;45:e156-e157.
  • Barbeau DJ, La KT, Kim DS, Kerpedjieva SS, Shurin GV, Tamama K*. Early Growth Response-2 Signaling Mediates Immunomodulatory Effects of Human Multipotential Stromal Cells. Stem Cells Dev. 2014; 23(2):155-66.
  • Berg A, Tamama K, Peck Palmer OM. Metabolic acidosis with discrepant lactate results. Clin Chem. 2013 Apr;59(4):713-4.
  • Dwyer JB, Tamama K*. Ketoacidosis and Trace Amounts of Isopropanol in a Chronic Alcoholic Patient. Clin Chim Acta. 2013; 415: 245249.