This T32 application, begun in 2006 at the NCI-designated Comprehensive Moffitt Cancer Center, has the goal to train the next generation of leaders in translational immunology who can bridge bench work to clinical practice that leads to novel strategies to combat cancer.
It aims to train a total of 2 predoctoral and 8 postdoctoral fellows, each for 3 years. Training is under 16 outstanding faculty members comprising of a mix of basic and clinical investigators who have a history of working together to solve barriers to immunity against cancer. Three areas of focus 1) innate immunity, inflammation and cancer, 2) adaptive immunity 3) immunotherapeutic strategies in cancer patients, integrate the research efforts of the faculty, which provide a multidisciplinary environment that benefit trainees for transition from mouse to man research. To take advantage of this setting, the Ph.D. Program in Cancer Biology, in its 10th year, has a curriculum that minimizes coursework and emphasizes laboratory research on a project co-mentored by a basic scientist and a physician scientist. Postdoctoral candidates also design a co- mentored project that addresses a critical issue in cancer immunity. The training program is overseen by the Education Committee headed by the PI with a faculty member from each of the 3 focus areas. It includes structured coursework, taken as appropriate, supplemented by participation in Research-in- Progress Seminars, Basic and Clinical Grand Rounds from outside speakers, and presentations at national meetings. Mandatory classes related to Research Ethics, Animal Safety and Human Subjects are taken, including training in key Core Facilities, such as Cell Therapies Core, Animal Models and Imaging, Flow Cytometry, Genomics, Proteomics, to enable trainees to utilize these tools in their research. The program is regularly evaluated under a process that measures not only the progress of the trainee but also the effectiveness of the program. Trainees working side by side with clinical mentors and their medical staff in the hospital setting will gain the necessary skill to conduct research in the interface of basic science and medicine.
The training program in Tumor Immunology described in this T32 application has great relevance to public health because it will produce a new generation of leaders in translational research who are capable of bringing bench observations into practical application in cancer patients. It is becoming evident that fewer US citizens are entering the biomedical research field and our edge in this field is rapidly eroding. Moffitt Cancer Center intends to block this erosion because it has the ideal setting to train predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows in translational research, bolstered by the integration of basic scientists with physician scientists in focused areas of tumor immunology research.
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