The current rapid pace of scientific discovery in cancer research, particularly at the cellular, genomic, and molecular levels, offers unprecedented opportunities for rapid clinical application of basic scientific findings. This progress will be optimized by providing rigorous basic and clinical research training to a select group of surgical oncologists who are already directed towards academic leadership.
The Specific Aim of this program is to provide formal training in scientific thought and technique to this select group of individuals. Two trainees per year will be competitively selected among trainees pursuing highly sought-after subspecialty fellowship training in either General or Thoracic Surgical Oncology. The selection process will identify and match the most qualified applicant, without regard to whether they are an internal or an external candidate. Trainees will elect to enter either the Laboratory Research Track or the Clinical Research Track. Each fellow will be guided to choose a senior preceptor/mentor from our list of participating faculty, all of whom have demonstrated an outstanding record of achievement in either laboratory or clinical cancer research, as well as an established record of successful trainee mentorship. The formal research training program begins after the required 18 months of post-residency surgical oncology training (our priority) or after the PG3 year of surgical residency, and would last for 2-3 consecutive years. This training period is uninterrupted by clinical duties, and includes formal training in research ethics as well as additional mandatory course work tailored to individual interests and capabilities. All trainees are assigned an Individual Fellowship Committee charged with critiquing the trainee's research, monitoring long-term progress towards an independent investigative career, and aiding in the selection of appropriate course work. The research training environment includes the graduate program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, in which selected trainees may be awarded Ph.D. degrees, as well as the Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation, in which either Masters or PhD programs may be pursued. The specific recruitment of underrepresented minorities to this program is enhanced by broad representation of women and minorities among our Surgical Oncology and Thoracic Surgery faculty and proactive strategies described in the grant. In this manner, the program is designed to generate a highly selected group of General and Thoracic Surgical Oncologists who will develop original and significant research programs and provide academic leadership throughout the surgical and oncologic communities.
Our proposed training program seeks to support formal research training for young surgical oncologists who will pursue careers in either laboratory or clinical cancer research, as they prepare for leadership roles in academic surgical oncology. This training grant will be a vital component in the national transition to a streamlined training program for academic surgical oncologists.
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