This application is for a new institutional Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) T32 training grant to support the research training of six postdoctoral fellows in the Molecular Pathology of Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The objective of this Program is to equip the most promising young cancer researchers recruited to our institution with the skills necessary both to advance scientific knowledge into human malignancy and effectively translate laboratory-based oncology discoveries into the clinic. Recent advances in molecular oncology and cancer genomics have created an unprecedented opportunity to study malignancy in cancer patients and their tissues, and use this information to develop mechanism-based diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to revolutionize patient care. The underlying rationale for this Program is that the development of personalized cancer therapy must be driven by the molecular pathology of the tumor. To keep pace with accelerating discoveries in cancer biology and catalyze clinical translation, we need to increase the number of highly trained translational physicians and scientists with an appreciation of the pathologic as well as genetic aberrations of cancer. This is the first training grant on this theme at UCSF and one of the few nationwide that brings together investigators focused on fundamental research in cancer biology, the molecular diagnosis of cancer, and personalized targeted therapy for cancer patients. Administration and scientific direction of the Program will be through the UCSF Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, providing an ideal setting where cutting edge cell and molecular biology expertise can be leveraged against our large tumor banks and combined with the newest technologies in cancer diagnostics. The 34 outstanding faculty members in the program are a mix of basic cancer biologists and physician-scientists with diverse clinical and scientific training in oncologic diseases. T32 trainees will receive highly personalized, multidisciplinary training that includes the following five key elements: (1) An intense research experience in which each trainee is co-mentored by a basic investigator and a clinical/translational scientist;(2) Hands-on exposure to a broad range of cancer-relevant analyses, including mutation panel testing and whole genome sequencing, bioinformatic approaches in a research setting and CLIA-licensed clinical laboratories;(3) Formal coursework in cancer biology, cancer pathology, translational oncology, and clinical trial development;(4) Weekly seminar series given by distinguished cancer researchers from outside academic institutions and bio/pharmaceutical companies in the Bay area and beyond;(5) Ongoing performance evaluation and formal career development workshops. We provide evidence that UCSF has the vision, expertise, and infrastructure to train the next generation of leaders in translational cancer research.
This application is directly relevant to human health as it requests funds to support the training of outstanding young physicians and scientists who will become independent researchers in cancer. In particular, this Program will equip these early-career investigators with the skills necessary both to make new discoveries about cancer in the laboratory and use their findings to improve cancer diagnosis and therapy in the clinic. The long-term goal is to train the next generation of leaders in cancer research.