This proposal requests support for years 36-40 of the University of Virginia Cancer Training Program. This Program seeks to bring together faculty and trainees who have common interests in cancer biology to (1) develop a greater understanding of the systems and processes that drive tumor initiation, growth, progression, and metastasis and (2) identify and exploit novel and potentially tumor-specific therapeutic targets. In parallel, the Program provides basic researchers with exposure to the physical, clinical, and psychosocial aspects of cancer through its close ties with the Cancer Center. Its overall objective is thus to provide predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows with a training platform that meets the dual goals of generating new information regarding the etiologies, progression, and treatment of cancer and preparing the next generation of young investigators for careers in cancer research. The Program supports 9 predoctoral and 4 postdoctoral trainees through a curriculum that includes didactic coursework, high quality research, a number of programmatic activities including an annual retreat, clinical/translational exposures through attendance at organ-based tumor boards, and outreach activities. Forty nine (49) mentors comprise the training faculty;collectively, these faculty are exceptionally accomplished cancer researchers, mentors, and teachers. Four goals for the next grant period provide the framework for this renewal application: (1) to build on the strengths of a program that has grown and matured in parallel with the rapidly growing field that is cancer research;(2) to invigorate and infuse new energy into the program through exposure to the most cutting-edge science and scientists (both young and old) who are leaders in their respective fields;(3) to provide future cancer researchers with the intellectual and problem-solving skills to become life-learners in a field tha is continually evolving;and (4) to promote translational research founded on a platform of strong basic science and discovery. The Cancer Training Program has experienced much success over its 34-year history, having trained hundreds of young scientists in cancer research who now have successful careers in academia, industry, and education. As we move into this next funding period, we challenge ourselves not to merely continue along a path that has been historically successful, but to "push the envelope," be creative in our course offerings and teaching modalities, provide an even richer research and clinical environment than already exists, integrate with cancer training programs at other institutions to maximize resources and opportunity, and assimilate our clinical colleagues into every component of the training program. The program details outlined herein, and the proposed changes for the coming grant period, reflect the commitment of our training faculty to provide our trainees with a highly creative and vibrant training program, one that will both entice and prepare them for careers in cancer research.
The Cancer Training Program described herein is designed to prepare the next generation of young investigators for careers in cancer research. By providing them with the practical skills to perform the research, the foundational knowledge to initiate a process of life-long learning, and the experience of being part of a dynamic and interactive research team, our trainees will be uniquely prepared to make inroads into understanding and curing cancer.
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