Molecular Oncology is a rapidly changing field, with remarkable new advances in our understanding of the basic biology of tumor cells and their interaction with the microenvironment. This has led to an increasing number of new oncology drug approvals, with the majority targeting specific components of signaling pathways. Modern training for basic cancer biologists requires diverse skills and knowledge in a wide range of disciplines. This is the second competitive renewal application of the Washington University Molecular Oncology Training Program, which has been funded by a T32 award from the NCI since 2006. It provides stipends for 1 predoctoral and 4 postdoctoral scientists, and the current application requests funds for the same number of trainees in the next period. This funding has been, and will continue to be supplemented by the Siteman Cancer Center, which provides stipends for 6 additional predoctoral scientists. Each trainee participates in the program for 2 years. Thus far, the program has trained 66 predoctoral students and 22 postdoctoral fellows, almost all of whom have continued their careers in scientific research. Funding is restricted to trainees with a PhD or those obtaining a PhD, and excludes those with MDs or MD-PhD or other degrees, or currently in such graduate programs. Thus, this current program fills a critical and important educational role for this institution that does not overlap with other training programs. The program includes 34 faculty members in many different departments who have substantial research funding and experience in mentoring students and fellows, who are focused on understanding the molecular basis of solid tumor and hematopoietic malignancy development and progression. Trainees participate in an annual didactic course each spring and journal clubs each fall semester, an annual retreat, and research-in-progress meetings throughout the year. Trainees also participate in a Clinical and Translational Science Mentoring Program one day each month in the fall semester. New in the current application are a bioinformatics boot camp, and luncheon seminar series in imaging and drug discovery, as well as a grant writing program focused on specific needs in our cancer's center's catchment area.
The current application is to continue funding the T32 Molecular Oncology Program that was initiated in 2006, that funds 1 predoctoral and 4 postdoctoral trainees for 2 years each. These funds are supplemented by those provided by the Siteman Cancer Center, which funds 6 additional predoctoral students. Trainees participate in the program for 2 years each. Each trainee receives career guidance from the program steering committee and an individual career mentoring committee. Trainees are mentored in laboratory research by any one of 34 faculty members. They also participate in an annual didactic course, journal clubs, work-in-progress meetings, an annual retreat, and a Clinical and Translational Science Mentoring Program. New elements added to the program in the current funding period include a bioinformatics boot camp, two different luncheon seminar series, one each in imaging and drug discovery, as well as a new grant writing program focused on specific needs in our cancer center's catchment area. Overall, this program provides comprehensive training for those embarking on a career in cancer research to tackle and solve problems that cause significant morbidity and mortality in our country.
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