Since its inception, research-oriented academic training in oncology has been one of the top priorities of the SKCCC. This training program provided opportunities for the trainees to apply fundamental scientific methods to the study of the cellular and molecular biology of cancer, tumor and transplant immunology, molecular virology, and the translation of the basic science discoveries to more effective cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Over the years, the interdisciplinary research activities of the SKCCC have increased in size, scope, and complexity with an emphasis on both clinical and basic scientific areas. The training opportunities have also increased through the duration of this training grant. This training grant which has, in the past, provided a broad training in cancer biology, pharmacology, chemotherapy, and immunology has for the past five years, focused on providing training opportunities in the studies of genetic and epigenetic changes that are unique to cancer cells and their possible use for cancer detection and therapy. The primary purpose of this grant is to train physician scientists in medical oncology in basic and translational research in molecular targets for cancer detection and treatment. This training grant has been the major support vehicle for the Center to provide an intensive research experience for physician trainees preparing them to pursue careers in academic oncology. Although the opportunities for significant scientific advances have dramatically increased, the number of physicians making a commitment to investigative careers in oncology is diminishing. The training of physician scientists remains a critical need in today's scientific arena. To accomplish this goal, the individuals supported by this grant enter the program via the SKCCC's Medical Oncology Fellowship Program. This fellowship program is offered as a three-year or more training experience. The role of the Molecular Targets training program is to provide an intensive translational research experience to selected medical oncology fellows in the second and third years of their medical oncology fellowship. The goal in these three years of subspecialty training is to provide fellows with the skills beyond the minimum required for subspecialty certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine as well as to train a new generation of physician scientists. All but the first clinical year must be spent in full-time research endeavors with the exception of the half day per week clinic requirement during the second year for board eligibility purposes. The first clinical year and half day clinic is funded from clinical revenues or sources other than this program. This training grant is the major mechanism for funding the subsequent research years for physician scientist trainees. These fellowship experiences are highly sought after.
Summary of relevance to public health: The primary purpose of this training grant is to train the physician- scientist in basic and translational cancer research. This training grant is focused on the studies of genetic and epigenetic alterations in cancer with the ultimate goal to use these molecular changes, which are unique to cancer cells as new indicators for detection of cancer cells and specific targets for therapy.
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