Assistant Professor of Medicine
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medicine

Research Projects

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most lethal form of kidney cancer, afflicts >70,000 patients each year in the United States and the number of cases is increasing. For patients with kidney cancer, molecular biomarkers which can help clinicians with treatment decision-making have been elusive, and currently no tissue-based testing is utilized for this cancer. This represents a large unmet need for both patients with common kidney cancers or rare kidney cancers and motivates Dr. Kotecha to target the circulating tumor cells (CTCs) detection technology for clinical utility.

His team is correlating the CTC detection data with imaging data of a patient’s original tumor. The scientists will study how treatment affects the number of CTCs detected and the genetic properties of the CTCs.

These results will give clinicians information on the characteristics of an individual’s cancer which may allow it to spread and data on how treatments may affect cancer growth. In addition, the scientists will compare genomic characterization on CTCs and on patients’ tumor tissues with known gene expression signatures that are in development.

Completing this project’s goals will provide the essential foundation for integrating these innovative and advanced cancer cell detection technology tools into the clinic to improve the care of kidney cancer patients.


Ritesh R. Kotecha, MD, is a genitourinary medical oncologist and clinician scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Dr. Kotecha received his BS/MD at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Albany Medical College through their Physician-Scientist Program. He also received dedicated research training through the National Institutes of Health Medical Research Scholars Program. He completed his internal medicine residency at Beth Israel Medical Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and completed his hematology and oncology training at MSK where he additionally served as a Chief Oncology Fellow. Dr. Kotecha joined the MSK Genitourinary Oncology Faculty after completing his fellowship and his research has focused on the development of novel biomarkers to evaluate response and resistance to immunotherapies. He also investigates the use of cellular therapies for the treatment of kidney cancer.

Dr. Kotecha has conducted extensive work on biomarker development in RCC and currently leads efforts to adapt and translate biomarkers for clinical application. In collaboration with Samir Zaidi, MD, PhD, he launched the xenografting and organoid program at MSK, which provides ex vivo characterization of patient derived samples to predict for responses to systemic therapy. Together, they have also developed a novel platform to better understand and implement gene expression signatures for clinical decision making.

This study will transform our ability to match patients to treatment options that result in improved patient outcomes.

Ritesh R. Kotecha, M.D.

The National Foundation for Cancer Research wishes to thank the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for its generous support to expand on this critical research initiative.

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Research Focus

Cancer Type Areas