Our proposed Cancer Systems Biology Scholars (CSBS) program is a postdoctoral training program at Stanford University focused on innovative, multidisciplinary cancer research education that seamlessly integrates experimental and computational biology in order to systematically unravel the complexity of cancer. This program aims to produce a new generation of cancer researchers who are trained in the field of systems biology in order to identify and elucidate critical cellular and molecular networks underlying cancer risk, initiation and progression and response to treatment. The opportunity to embark on cancer systems biology research careers has been enabled by the rapid emergence of numerous and increasingly accessible technologies that provide global DNA, RNA and protein expression profiling. A vast amount of multiplexed, multi-scale experimental data is now available and continues to be generated on cancer systems, ranging from cell lines (CCLE), mouse models, and human disease (TCGA). The challenge that most traditionally trained cancer researchers face is how to integrate and analyze this complex datasets. To address this challenge, it is evident that a new generation of cancer researchers with broader training in both experimentation and computation skills is needed to apply the emerging principles of systems biology to the study of cancer. The Stanford CSBS program addresses the pressing need to develop and implement a curriculum-based, multidisciplinary research education program in cancer systems biology. We bring together 28 Stanford faculty mentors from 16 departments/divisions, bridging the Stanford Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Humanities and Sciences. We propose a two-year training program, and will produce 10 trainees over a four year training period, which will begin after one full year of dedicated curriculum development. Collectively, our faculty represent an equal balance of biological and computational science, and our goal is to attract a similar distribution of backgrounds among our trainees for co-mentoring. We believe that the creative spark of our program will emerge from the integration of these traditionally distinctly taught disciplines. We envision that all the graduates of our CSBS Program will have acquired the necessary biological and computational skills in order to become the future leaders of cancer systems biology research and produce biologically and clinically insights that will reduce cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality.
By investing in the multidisciplinary career development and research education of a new generation of cancer researchers through the Stanford Cancer Systems Biology Scholars (CSBS) Program, we believe that the complexity of cancer will be further unraveled;molecular drivers and regulatory networks critical to cancer susceptibility, initiation, and progression will be revealed;and precise, personalized, molecularly targeted interventions for cancer prevention, early detection, diagnostics and therapeutics will be realized that will reduce cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality.