The primary aim of the Career Enhancement Program (CEP) is to attract and train exceptional investigators at City of Hope and University of Alabama Birmingham in conducting outstanding lymphoma translational research. Both junior and established researchers who desire to focus or refocus on lymphoma may participate. Two individuals are supported every year, for up to two years. Recruitment of investigators who wish to pursue a career in lymphoma research may also take place. SPORE has budgeted direct costs of $50,000 per year, with additional yearly contributions from City of Hope and UAB of $100,000 and $25,000, respectively. Investigators can use funds for salary support for protected research time, personnel and supplies, and meeting and training expenses. Drs. Stephen Forman, Alexandra Levine, and Smita Bhatia, collectively representing extensive mentoring experience, lead the CEP. They will direct the process of selecting trainees, providing advice and feedback, and coordinating an annual review. Program announcements are widely disseminated through various media to ensure awareness. A sustained, concerted effort will be made to attract women and minority candidates. Applicants are reviewed on the basis of their qualifications, the scientific merit and feasibility of their proposed project, and the potential for meaningful interaction with the other projects and cores within the SPORE. Trainees are to select mentors among senior faculty or SPORE members; the Career Enhancement Committee must approve the choice and is available for assisting the matching process. Trainees submit a written progress report twice annually, detailing relevant work to date and manuscripts and presentations that arose from their research. Awardees present their research at the annual SPORE retreat. The External Advisory Board evaluates progress and seeks solutions to points of concern if necessary. Previous CEP recipients have been greatly productive. Dr. Xiuli Wang conducted highly promising research on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells redirected with dual specificity for cytomegalovirus and CD19; this investigation has been promoted to a full project within the current SPORE. Dr. Elizabeth Budde performed studies that led to a CAR T cell trial directed against CD123 in acute myeloid leukemia, and she is now the clinical lead in Project 4 of the SPORE. Dr. Alex Herrera, now a basic SPORE leader in Project 3, has made significant progress studying biomarkers and outcome in patients who undergo cellular therapies; two main translational research projects are ongoing. We anticipate that the new class of investigators will continue the tradition of performing cutting-edge, transformative lymphoma research.
The Career Enhancement Program supports -- scientifically as well as financially -- investigators who wish to devote their efforts to lymphoma research. The innovative projects proposed by outstanding scientists hold promise for developing needed therapies for patients with lymphoma, possibly extending to other malignancies.
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