The faculty of two institutions, Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), who share a single graduate program, are requesting funds to support a collaborative training program in research in the area of cancer pharmacology. Our cancer pharmacology training grant/program (CPTG) includes an integrated set of training activities for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. The strength and research diversity of the 16 faculty mentors provide opportunities for research in a variety of areas, such as the development of new cancer therapeutic agents (e.g. organic synthesis, monoclonal antibody technology, differentiation therapy, and the screening of chemical libraries), and the analysis of molecular mechanisms to identify new drug targets and understand how drugs act on cancer cells. Training program faculty research includes basic, mechanistic studies of the molecular actions of drugs used in cancer treatment and prevention and research leading to more clinical endpoints. The graduate PhD program includes course work, three lab rotations, the admission to candidacy (ACE) exam, and thesis research. A graduate course in Cancer Pharmacology (part of this program) represents a commitment of the faculty to the training of students and fellows in this area. Students and fellows present their research at the annual two-day Pharmacology Program retreat. Predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows attend weekly journal clubs and take courses related to cancer pharmacology. Since the last funding cycle, our CPTG has implemented individual development plans for T32 trainees as a vehicle to accelerate their career advancement. We also established Bench-to-Bedside, a new 2014 elective course in drug development/entrepreneurship. We now have both External and Internal Advisory Committees for this CPTG, plus a CARR (Committee for Admissions, Recruitment, and Retention). Our CPTG is fortunate to have an outstanding faculty with a breadth of research interests in cancer pharmacology, exceptional institutional resources, and state-of-the-art core facilities. This CPTG is unusual in that it features broad training ranging from molecular pharmacology to animal models of cancer to human clinical trials. Many faculty of the CPTG are physician-scientists who treat patients as well as perform research. This CPTG has a number of strengths, most notably the extremely large pools of well- qualified training grant-eligible applicants for both the predoctoral and postdoctoral positions; the tremendous productivity in terms of publications of the trainees; the research talent, experience, and collaborativeness of the CPTG faculty mentors; and the tremendously vibrant intellectual atmosphere in the tri-institutional research area in New York City. This CPTG provides PhD students and postdoctoral fellows with an in depth understanding of the interrelationships between research on the basic mechanisms of drug action and drug development and clinical issues, producing the next generation of clinicians and basic scientists who will be prepared to carry out independent research and collaborative projects to prevent and/or treat cancer.
The focus of the Weill Cornell Cancer Pharmacology Training Grant/Program is to train predoctoral students and PhD, MD, and MD/PhD postdoctoral fellows to perform research that will (a) use a variety of state-of-the- art experimental approaches to develop new drugs for cancer prevention and treatment, and (b) provide new knowledge about the mechanisms of action of existing drugs currently in use for cancer treatment. The ultimate goal is to translate this knowledge into new therapies for cancer that will be safer and more effective.
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