Originally awarded in 1992, this application requests a five-year renewal of the T32 Head and Neck Training Program in Surgical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). The mission of the Head and Neck T32 program is to train a highly selected group of talented head and neck oncologic surgeons to become high-caliber translational scientists and future academic leaders who will be positioned to advance the management of head and neck cancers. MSKCC, an NCI- designated comprehensive cancer center, provides a fertile environment rich in scientific and clinical resources that support intensive training in translational research. This T32's research training strategy integrates the following key components: (1) a committed and experienced Program Faculty spanning a wide range of scientific disciplines, with established track records of successful mentorship, (2) immersion into rigorous scientific research training in an R01-funded laboratory with appropriate guidance, (3) didactic research coursework, and (4) career development workshops. Each year, two new postdoctoral (MD or MD/PhD degrees) trainees are appointed to the Head and Neck T32 training grant for two contiguous years of dedicated research training. During this period, Head and Neck T32 trainees engage full-time in basic or translational mentored research related to head and neck cancers. Areas of potential research include genomics, molecular biology, cell biology, signal transduction, immunology, transgenic mouse modeling, chemoprevention, experimental therapeutics, and others. Research projects are matched to the particular academic interests and goals of the T32 trainee. Head and NeckT32 trainees will also enter a formal didactic program in head and neck oncology and research training, designed to supplement their individualized mentored research training. Career development workshops and seminars will help to prepare the T32 trainee for a successful competitive academic career. These workshops focus on grant writing skills, applying for career development awards, and developing the tools necessary for future independent research support. Head and Neck T32 trainees will be monitored closely and are expected to meet training milestones at designated time points. Specific expectations are delineated for trainee publications, grant submissions, national meeting presentations, and attendance at didactic conferences. Historically, a high proportion of trainees supported by the MSKCC Head and Neck T32 training program have entered academic head and neck surgical oncology and gone on to become prominent figures in the field, reflecting the effectiveness of this continuing program.
Incidence rates for thyroid cancer and human papilloma virus (HPV)-related head and neck cancers are steadily rising, and tobacco-related head and neck cancers continue to be identified as a public health priority by the NIH. Research at the cellular, genetic, and molecular levels has revealed that cancers of the head and neck have a complex biology, distinct from other cancer types. The T32 Head and Neck Training Program in Surgical Oncology at MSKCC trains qualified clinician-scientists in head and neck cancer basic and translational research to specifically address these unique diseases.
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