This proposal is for the first renewal of a training program for surgical residents and surgical oncology fellows in translational research related to biologic therapies. The objective is to develop academic surgical oncologists using the following aims: (1) Recruit highly promising surgeons interested in surgical oncology, who are committed to a career in academic surgical oncology relevant to the biologic therapy of cancer, (2) Provide specific graduate course work to enhance their knowledge in molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and clinical trials, as it relates to cancer and translationa research and (3) Provide an in-depth exposure to basic research skills by working with well-established mentors. We have a highly competitive group of surgical residents and surgical oncology fellows. Applicants include University of Pittsburgh surgical residents who are interested in surgical oncology, surgical oncology fellows from the University of Pittsburgh, and surgeons from other programs who are interested in biologic therapy research. Three surgeons will be supported by the program each year. They are provided a summary of the laboratories and encouraged to choose the lab that most interests them. Our group has a long standing interest and expertise in biologic therapies, and it is this strength that we propose to pass on to these trainees. Five defined research areas are offered: 1) Immunotherapy;2) Cytokine Therapy;3) Gene therapy;4) Targeted Molecular Therapy;and 5) Genomics and Proteomics. Mentors are grouped within each field and a representative of each field is on the administrative committee. The training experience will consist of formal course work, seminars, journal clubs, and basic laboratory research. Basic laboratory research will form the bulk of the training experience. The trainees will all participate in graduate school courses on the principles and techniques of molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and clinical trials, as well as courses on the responsible conduct of research each year. The trainees will enter a mentor's laboratory for two years, with an optional third year of training if approved by the Administrative Committee. The mentor evaluates the trainee every 6 months and communicates this evaluation to the Administrative Committee during the biannual Administrative Committee meeting. Following the Committee meeting, the trainee meets with the Program Director, at which time the trainee will be asked to evaluate his/her experience in the mentor's laboratory. A two-page written summary by each trainee evaluating their overall training experience is required at the conclusion of the research fellowship. While this program is relatively new, the feedback from the faculty and trainees has been excellent, and the academic productivity has been significant.
The ability to recognize clinical problems in oncology and bring those problems to the laboratory for discovery and back to the patients in the form of clinical trials is an essential aspect of the fight against cancer. Surgical oncologists are highly qualified physicians with the tools to accomplish meaningful research, but they require formal training in basic research. This training program will develop surgical oncologists into formal scientists with the ability to make a unique impact in cancer research.
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