This proposal is a revised renewal application for a highly successful multidisciplinary training program in tumor immunology at UCLA. The program provides training in all aspects of tumor immunology research. We propose to continue supporting a total of nine trainees (3 predoctoral, 6 postdoctoral) in a highly structured research training environment under the supervision of experienced and highly productive faculty mentors. Over the past 35 years, the UCLA Tumor Immunology Training Program (TITP) has bridged training in the fields of cancer and immunology, and is the sole UCLA training program integrating fundamental laboratory- based immunology with clinical oncology. For many years the TITP has remained vital through the recruitment of new faculty members from different departments into the program. In the next funded period, the focus on tumor immunology training is strengthened by including only topic-related faculty in the program. The TITP has leveraged UCLA's internationally recognized standing as a major center in clinical trials utilizing immunotherapy and genetic immunotherapy against a variety of cancers. Additional training leverage is provided by a top scoring Clinical Science Translational Institute (CTSI), directed by Dr. S Dubinett, who is a co-director of the TITP. The training program has been highly successful in developing new investigators with ~85-90% of trainees continuing research careers in academics or industry. Thus, the TITP continues as a strong complement of basic, translational, and clinical investigations in tumor immunology at UCLA. A multitude of unique, interactive, and highly integrated activities in tumor immunology serve as an outstanding resource for our trainees. The TITP emphasizes training in the cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms of tumor cell-host immune interactions. At both the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels, the TITP main goals are to: 1) identify and support outstanding trainees with a high level of interest and focus in tumor immunology research, 2) train scientists to conduct cutting-edge research in fundamental and clinical tumor immunology, 3) provide trainees with a solid background in the biological sciences with an emphasis in fundamental immunology, biochemistry, biology, genetics, and now also stem cell biology and nanotechnology, 4) facilitate career development by helping predoctoral trainees choose postdoctoral fellowships and obtain support, and by guiding postdoctoral trainees in obtaining positions in academia and industry, 5) acquaint and support trainees'interdisciplinary action and research opportunities, 6) introduce novel and significant projects for which beneficial outcomes will be derived, 7) acquaint trainees with state-of-the-art research through the training grant-supported fundamental and tumor immunology seminar series and associated journal clubs, and 8) provide trainees with regular opportunities to present their own research in seminar form and receive critical feedback from the training grant faculty and scientific community beyond UCLA by supporting trainee presentations at tumor immunology-related national and international meetings.
The UCLA Tumor Immunology Training Program (TITP) trains the next generation of academic and industrial leaders in basic, translational, and clinical tumor immunology. Leveraging an exceptionally strong environment in immunotherapy, gene therapy, and now Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)-related research, program trainees benefit from the unique and rich resources of a major academic center recognized internationally for its pioneering work in tumor immunology and a strong, vibrant environment that receives exceptional institutional support and houses one of the largest clinical trials centers in the world. Most trainees who have graduated from the TITP continue to fulfill its stated mission by advancing to positions of leadership in academia or industry and continuing to uncover basic principles in host-tumor interactions while also developing next-generation therapies based in fundamental tumor immunology for the betterment of cancer patients and their families.
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