Disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and morbidity continue to exist within the Hispanic population. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Puerto Rico (PR), yet cancer research awareness and opportunities remain somewhat limited on the Island. Nationwide there continues to be a paucity of Hispanic, including Puerto Rican, clinical and basic science faculty with a focus on cancer. This negatively impacts progress in reducing health disparities in the Hispanic population. The overall long-term objective of the Training/Career Development Core of the Ponce School of Medicine/Moffitt Cancer Center (PSM/MCC) Partnership is to increase the numbers and success of basic science investigators and clinical research scientists focused on enhancing cancer research for the PR population. This training core will accomplish these goals through enhancement of the academic, research, and professional competence of both the underrepresented minority students and those serving these populations. The specific measurable objectives of the Training/Career Development Core are as follows: (1) to build a cancer research track for Ph.D. students at PSM to increase the number of basic science cancer investigators and enhance cancer research focused on the Puerto Rican population;(2) to build a clinical training pipeline of medical students and fellows to enhance clinical cancer, research and treatment of the PR population;and (3) to enhance career development of partnership junior investigators. To achieve these objectives we will capture early career PhD graduate students in Puerto Rico, immersing them in a cancer research environment. A reciprocal research exchange of PhD students from the MCC Cancer Center and integrated health disparities education will develop a strong network of basic scientists to address cancer disparities issues. Second, we will establish an oncology track for PSM medical students. Third, this Core will support a unique clinical research training experience for oncology fellows on the island. This novel oncology fellowship program will provide coordinated training in clinical trials and translational research at MCC, PSM, San Juan VA Medical Hospital and San Juan City Hospital. Fourth, the Core will support the career development plans of the Partnership faculty mentees to build research capacity at PSM. Networking of the trainees and junior faculty through shared developmental workshops and long-term interactions will fully integrate the trainees and support establishment of successful cancer research careers on the island. Critical evaluation and tracking of the career paths of the trainees and junior faculty mentees will assess program effectiveness, and provide feedback for improving the education and training components of the Core. Successful outcomes from these goals will enhance the numbers and achievements of Puerto Rican cancer investigators, contribute to a long-term cancer research training infrastructure at PSM, and augment cancer research aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the Hispanic population in both Puerto Rico and Florida. The Training/Career Development Core will complement and leverage the existing programs at both MCC and PSM to significantly enhance the overall Partnership objectives by providing a better trained workforce to conduct cancer related research with the momentum to create new research initiatives addressing the health disparities found in Hispanic populations.
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