The primary focus of our training program at the University of Kentucky (UK) is to provide intensive and interdisciplinary basic science research training for a minimal period of two years for qualified individuals who are committed to pursuing a career in academic oncologic surgery. Our training program is specifically designed to focus on the research training of academic surgeons so that they will be prepared to become independent scientists and incorporate the new and state-of-the-art techniques learned during their training period into a successful academic career. Also, these trainees will be prepared to be active participants in multidisciplinary teams which are required for the optional treatment of the complex cancer patient. Our training program represents a collaboration between the Markey Cancer Center and the Department of Surgery and benefits greatly from the experience and collegiality of the program and associate directors who have worked together for many years and have led other successful training programs for clinician-scientists and basic researchers. The primary training faculty is composed of both basic and clinical-scientists who are collegial, collaborative and multidisciplinary;each primary faculty mentor is a recognized expert in his or her field and has a long record of research productivity in the training of young investigators from the US and abroad. In the past 10 years, our 15 primary faculty mentors have trained over 100 predoctoral students and more than 130 postdoctoral fellows. The diversity of our training program is further enhanced by the inclusion of seasoned adjunct faculty mentors who will provide additional clinical and biostatistical expertise. Also, we have designed a "pipeline" mechanism to provide the time and instruction for promising junior faculty members to further hone their mentoring skills so that they can become effective primary mentors in the future. The breadth and depth of the basic research available in the laboratories of the various faculty mentors will allow the trainees to become familiar with and adept at the application of state-of-the-art techniques for the comprehensive care of the cancer patient. In addition to an intensive research experience, the trainees will take formal courses (eg, grant writing skills, ethics and biostatistics). Furthermore, the trainees will participate in regularly scheduled Cancer Center and Department of Surgery seminars and lectures. All of our trainees will be required to complete coursework for a Master's degree in Clinical and Translational Science (CTS). This requirement will further add depth to the program and increase interactions with other scientists on campus through the required supervisory committee. Trainees will also be mentored in the fine points of preparing abstracts, scientific papers and presentations and writing successful grant proposals. We are concerned with the alarming decrease in the number of clinician-scientists;this decrease is most apparent in the diminishing number of surgeon-scientists. We are passionate, motivated and committed to the training of future academic surgeons.
The number of clinician-scientists and, in particular, surgeon-scientists is decreasing at an alarming rate;this reduction will negatively impact the ability and rapidity to translate basic discoveries made in cancer research to the patient. Our training program, representing a collaboration between the Markey Cancer Center and the Department of Surgery at the University of Kentucky, is focused on the interdisciplinary training of future academic surgeons. Of the more than 150 training programs funded by the NCI, we are aware of only 2 others that are specifically training surgeon-scientists;we feel that this is an inadequate number to prepare surgeon- investigators to be competitive in the academic arena and to be active participants in multidisciplinary cancer teams which are required for the care of the complex cancer patient.
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