With the increasing complexity of cancer care, the rising numbers of diverse cancer survivors in the US population, and the increasing global burden of cancer, it is critical that Pritzker School of Medicine (PSOM) prepare a workforce trained to meet these challenges. Workforce for the continuum of care from risk assessment and prevention, early detection, treatment, survivorship and end of life care is interdisciplinary and inter-professional but medical education has remained compartmentalized.
We aim to transform our approach to training medical students at PSOM for 21st Century cancer care by developing the Scholars in Oncology Associated Research (SOAR) program. In a new highly innovative 11-week intensive summer program for medical students, SOAR participants will learn fundamentals of cancer research along with interdisciplinary and interprofessional cancer care. The program will enroll twelve medical students each year, including four students who will conduct global cancer research at established UChicago Global partner sites. Each student will conduct interdisciplinary cutting-edge cancer research in with strong mentorship by established NIH funded investigators in our Comprehensive Cancer Center or the Center for Global Health. In addition, trainees will take part in formal instruction in responsible conduct of research, didactic lectures on the science of oncology, interdisciplinary tumor boards, research skill development and career planning activities as well as opportunities for career exploration, networking, and outreach that will increase their knowledge of cancer and motivate them to pursue further education and training for future careers as cancer researchers. Trainees will be supported by a tiered mentorship structure that includes Faculty Cluster Group Leaders who will be responsible for monitoring progress along milestones of completing their projects and lead peer mentoring sessions where they learn about each other's research. Using didactic sessions, experiential research training in diverse settings that represent the diversity of cancer research, and formal exposure to national and global leaders in oncology research across the care continuum, SOAR participants will have a greater appreciation for research training in the context of the interdisciplinary and interprofessional oncology care. With rigorous evaluation and planning, we will continue to improve SOAR and determine if SOAR participants show a greater propensity to pursue cancer research and/or pursue oncology as a career, as well as track long-term outcomes such as publications, grants, and entry into academic careers. The SOAR program aims to inculcate the next generation of cancer researchers with the desire to understand and improve quality of cancer care through pursuit of research intensive careers in Academia, Industry, Government or private Health Systems. SOAR will enable PSOM to maintain its tradition of excellence in preparing a diverse and highly skilled workforce to achieve the promise of precision oncology care and promote global health equity.
The Scholars in Oncology-Associated Research (SOAR) training program is a 11-week intensive structured mentored cancer research experience in basic science, clinical or population research along with didactic seminars covering the cancer care spectrum and experiential training in the interdisciplinary and interprofessional care of patients with cancer in diverse settings. SOAR aims to inculcate intellectually curious medical students with the desire to pursue research intensive careers in the future.