Kenneth Olden graduated from Knoxville College in 1960 with his Bachelor of Science degree in biology. In 1962, Olden enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated from there in 1964 with his Master of Science degree in genetics. In 1970 he received a degree of Doctor of Philosophy in cell biology and biochemistry from Temple University.
In 2003 Olden was presented with an honorary doctorate of science degree by the University of Rochester and an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree by the College of Charleston.
Kenneth Olden served as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor in the physiology department at Harvard Medical School where he worked from 1970 to 1974. In 1974-1979, Olden was employed as a researcher in the laboratory of molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
From 1979-1991, Kenneth held several positions at the Howard University Cancer Center, including Director, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Oncology. K. Olden served in several positions at Howard University between 1979 and 1991, including associate professor of oncology in the Medical School as well as professor and chairman of the Department of Oncology.
In 1991, K. Olden was named Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Nation Toxicology Program (NTP) in the United States Department of Health and Human Service. He then served as Chief of the Metastasis Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the NIEHS. K. Olden was appointed as the Yerby Visiting Professor in the Harvard School of Public Health from 2006 to 2007. In 2008, Olden became the founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York.
Kenneth Olden is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, 1994; International Society for Study Comparative Oncology, Metastasis Research Society, Southern Biological Response Modifiers, American Biological Chemistry Society and American Cell Biology Society .
Kenneth Olden is married to Sandra L. White and has 4 children.