This is a request for support of 9 predoctoral students in the Carcinogenesis Training Program at Northwestern University, currently entering year 25. Its goal is to provide comprehensive, rigorous research training in cancer biology and a focus for interdisciplinary interactions among students and faculty in the Cancer Biology Cluster. During the past funding period an unprecedented re-alignment of Ph.D. programs resulted in formation of the Ph.D. Program in the Life and Biomedical Sciences at Northwestern (NU Labs), which merged the faculty of the umbrella programs on the Evanston and Chicago campuses. NU Labs comprises 9 intercampus "Clusters" one of which is the Cancer Biology Cluster, directed by Drs. Green and Crispino, who also direct the T32. The Cluster will serve as the primary source of students for our 26 preceptors. The highly collaborative and interactive preceptor group, representing 13 departments and divisions and supported by $21.5M in direct costs, brings training expertise in four cross-cutting areas bolstered by the addition of 10 new preceptors: 1) Signaling, Nucleus &Gene Regulation and Cancer Genetics 2) Cell Cycle Control &Viral Carcinogenesis, 3) Adhesion, Motility and Angiogenesis, and 4) Tumor Therapy, Chemoprevention and Translational Research. Students are appointed after 1.5 years of course work, including Introductory and Advanced cancer biology courses, after rigorous evaluation by a Selection Committee. 3-4 years of thesis research are coupled with an educational enrichment program and training in the responsible conduct of research. 99 students have completed the program since its inception, with 14 continuing in various stages of training. During the past 10 years, students who completed the program have published on average 4 papers. In the past 5 years, 4 of 21 trainees were from underrepresented minority groups. Over 25 years, 69% of graduates remain in academic/industry research careers (80% over 10 years), with ~90% of these staying in the area of cancer biology. Our goals are to: enhance didactic training by continuing to introduce cutting edge concepts and translational research;promote diversity through a new position-Diversity Director;ensure active communication and participation among students and preceptors from both campuses;and enhance outcomes by increasing the competitive criteria for selection and by mentoring trainees as they transition towards independent careers.
This pre-doctoral training program seeks to provide comprehensive interdisciplinary training to arm the next generation of cancer researchers with the investigative tools and conceptual foundation they will need to bring a fresh approach to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer. Rigorous training at the bench, coupled with educational enrichment activities, will be provided by an outstanding cadre of training program leaders and preceptors with expertise spanning fundamental tumor cell and signaling biology to cutting edge approaches for drug delivery and therapeutics to treat cancer.
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