The overarching goal of the Tumor Cell Biology Training Program (TCB-TP) is to equip the next generation of cancer biologists and clinician scientists with the tools essential for innovative research. Recent improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer have been driven by the translation of paradigm-shifting basic research into clinical settings. Continued progress toward complete remission or cure of all cancer types will require an intensified effort on multiple fronts. For this to occur, it is essential that the next generation of cancer researchers have the knowledge, analytical tools, and critical thinking skills to integrate diverse fields of biology. In addition, it is imperative that basic science researchers be able to access and integrate the insights being generated by clinical researchers. We undertake this mission using two complementary approaches. The first is to provide comprehensive training in the fundamental and emerging mechanisms of tumor biology and the range of tools available to study these processes. The second is to provide a forum in which basic studies in tumor biology are viewed within the context of their relevance to diagnostics and therapeutics. These objectives are achieved through the participation of trainees and faculty with a diverse range of scientific interests and expertise in both basic and translational research. The training program brings together three pre-doctoral and five post-doctoral trainees, who are supported for at least two years while they conduct mentored research projects. Trainee mentors are drawn from twenty-four Ph.D. and M.D. program faculty members who are affiliated with 12 different UCLA departments, and whose areas of research include cancer-initiating cells, transcriptional regulation, tumor micro-environment, metabolism, computational biology, and cell division. A monthly seminar series brings together trainees and faculty to critically discuss research data presented by each trainee. The program leadership invites at least one translational and/or clinical investigator who has expertise in the topic under discussion and can contribute a clinical perspective to the seminar. One-on-one meetings between program leadership and trainees are designed to provide feedback on seminar content and effectiveness of the presentation, encourage trainees to discuss their progress and plans, and offer trainees an opportunity to express any concerns about their training environment. A written Individual Development Plan is completed annually by trainees and reviewed with the PIs and co-investigator. Courses on ethics and reproducibility in research are mandatory for all trainees. The Tumor Cell Biology Training Program will be jointly directed under the multi-PI mechanism by Dr. Gay M. Crooks and Dr. Owen N. Witte, senior academic leaders at UCLA with well established programs in basic and translational research. The program enjoys strong campus support from, among others, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Broad Stem Cell Research Center. The PIs are assisted by co-investigator John Colicelli, and strategic oversight to the grant is provided by Internal and External Advisory Committees.
The educational and research mission of this training program is to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and clinician scientists in i) the application of 'cutting edge conceptual and technical strategies to cancer biology and medicine and ii) the multidisciplinary, team approaches required to use those strategies from the laboratory to the bedside.
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