The opportunities for new and targeted approaches to cancer treatment are growing at an exponential pace. However, to effectively harness these opportunities requires a pool of researchers who can bridge the divide between lab-based identification of new therapeutic approaches and actual clinical needs and practicalities of patient treatment. Currently the pool of individuals with such skills is limited. The Pathways to Cancer Therapeutics Training Program seeks to address this shortfall by increasing the number of individuals with a strong training in the areas of cancer biology that underlie identification of new therapeutic approaches, who also have a true understanding of the challenges and needs associated with translating scientific discovery into the clinic. The Training Program has two key goals: The first is to provide pre- and postdoctoral trainees with a rigorous and applied understanding of how basic research in cancer biology can be utilized to identify new drug targets and more effective therapeutic strategies. The second is to provide the trainees with an understanding of the challenges and practice of using cancer therapeutics in the clinic. The training will focus on three areas that are key to development of new therapeutic approaches and are areas of institutional strength in cancer therapy: cancer metabolism, tumor immunology and the microenvironment, and genome instability and regulation. A series of multidisciplinary activities are proposed to achieve the goals of the Program. (1) Trainees will participate in a mentored research project under the direction of one of 26 primary mentors who come from 10 basic science and clinical departments across the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children?s Medical Center (CCHMC). The mentors have active, well-funded research programs and extensive mentoring experience. (2) Trainees undertake formal training that includes didactic coursework, attending seminars, ethics training and career development activities. The specialized classes lead to a Certificate in Clinical and Translational Research. (3) Trainees participate in activities in clinical oncology. Each trainee is paired with a clinical co-mentor with expertise related to the trainee?s research area. The clinical co-mentor participates in the development of the trainee research project and career plan. In addition, trainees attend Tumor Boards/Grand Rounds and participate in clinical shadowing experiences with their co-mentor. The Training Program is administered by Co-Principal Investigators and a Clinical Director with support from business offices within UC. Three administrative committees provide program evaluation and oversight, support a rigorous trainee selection process, ensure excellence in training, monitor trainee progress and ensure that trainees represent an ethnically and scientifically diverse group. There is a strong institutional commitment to the Training Program in the form of direct financial support, trainee benefits and administrative support. Institutional programs and Training Program mentors and trainees are actively involved in recruitment of underrepresented groups. The Training Program requests support from the NIH for 6 postdoctoral and 2 predoctoral trainees.
The purpose of the Pathways to Cancer Therapeutics Training Program is to equip predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists with skill sets that will allow for their careers and science to cross-over into clinical translation. Trainees will gain an understanding of how research in cancer biology can be utilized to identify new and more effective cancer therapeutic strategies and the challenges associated with translating therapeutics into the clinic. The Training Plan will be achieved through a series of multidisciplinary activities including (i) a mentored research project focused in emerging areas underling new cancer target discovery (i.e. cancer metabolism, tumor immunology and the microenvironment, and genome stability and regulation), (ii) formal training including specialized classes and education opportunities leading to a Certificate in Clinical and Translational Research, and (iii) defined experiences in clinical oncology including the development of the research and career plan with a clinical co-mentor, shadowing sessions and involvement in tumor boards and grand rounds.
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