The Vanderbilt Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program (VCORCDP) is designed to provide senior oncology fellows, junior clinical oncology faculty and translationally-focused post-doctoral Ph.D. scholars with the tools and experience to design and implement all phases of hypothesis-driven clinical oncology research and effectively lead translational research projects involving clinicians and basic scientists. The VCORCDP leverages the rich scientific environment and mentorship available through the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), Vanderbilt's extraordinary environment for conducting patient-oriented research, and an institutional infrastructure designed to support the success of physician-scientists and Ph.D.-trained clinical and translational investigators. The primary components of VCORCDP are the completion of mentored patient- oriented clinical research in oncology coupled with tailored didactic training typically leading to a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation or Master of Public Health. As a central feature of the program, scholars are assigned mentors from among an outstanding group of over forty committed, experienced mentors - one with established experience in patient-oriented research and one with significant laboratory research experience. Through regular meetings with the Program Directors and their mentorship committees, as well as preparation of Individual Development Plans and structured Progress Reports, VCORCDP scholars tailor their career development to their needs and develop accountability for their own progress. A diverse Advisory Committee, representing four oncology specialties and basic cancer biologists, continually evaluates the progress of individual scholars and evaluates program success based on metrics such as diversity of program participants, program completion, retention in academia, funding success, publication rates and impact. Among thirty scholars who have completed VCORCDP to date, 93% remain in academia and 64% of these enjoy independent, peer-reviewed funding. Scholars represent medical oncology (51%), pediatric oncology (15%), surgical oncology (18%), and radiation oncology (5%), and other related subspecialties. Forty-nine percent of scholars are women and 10% come from under-represented minority groups. Scholars publish an average of 4.3 papers per year. Graduates of the program have led and are leading high-impact trials of molecular targeted therapy for melanoma, lung cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer, to name a few. Based on this record, we believe the VCORCDP will continue to increase the number of well-trained clinical oncology researchers who can lead the expedited translation of research discoveries into patient-oriented therapeutic cancer research.

Public Health Relevance

The Vanderbilt Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program (VCORCDP) is designed to train physicians and Ph.D. investigators to perform clinical studies to improve the care of patients with cancer. The career development program includes mentored research which involves the direct care of cancer patients, as well as coursework that covers topics such as study design and the ethical and scientific responsibilities required of an investigator. VCORCDP scholars are already contributing to the design and conduct of clinical research that is advancing the treatment and care of cancer patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Physician Scientist Award (Program) (PSA) (K12)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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Damico, Mark W
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
United States
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