This competing renewal application requests a second five-year support by the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32) for our ?Cancer Biology Training Program? based at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The goal of the Cancer Biology Training Program is to educate and train the next generation of cancer researchers (pre- and postdoctoral trainees) to meet the growing demands for scientists trained in multiple facets of cancer biology. Since the start of the T32 award in August 2011, all trainee positions (1 predoctoral and 3 postdoctoral) have continuously been filled. As a result, to date four predoctoral students and seven postdoctoral fellows have been appointed as T32 trainees including three from populations that are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. Going forward, we request funds to support the same number of predoctoral (1) and postdoctoral (3) trainees. Trainees will be selected for their academic achievements and their dedication to cancer research. The training program has 28 faculty mentors (19 full professors, 6 associate professors, and 3 assistant professors; 22 men and 6 women) from 8 departments who have full faculty privileges in the Graduate School as well as in the NCI-designated Cancer Center, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC), and with diverse expertise that provides depth and breadth of research opportunities for trainees. The mentors, who share several collaborative projects and are very interactive, have a strong record of funded research (average direct costs >$500K per mentor in the current year) as well as in mentoring predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The Training Program includes predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees who are appointed for a period of two to three years. The training curriculum (including two cancer biology core courses, a cancer biology journal club, and a drug development lecture series) stresses both basic and translational approaches to provide outstanding training for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in broad range of contemporary topics in cancer biology and to give them a solid background in oncology necessary for their success in research both near- term and long-term. The curriculum, which has recently been revitalized with introduction of new didactics in bioinformatics, also emphasizes training in scientific communication with opportunities to improve both oral and written skills. The training program leverages the growing basic and clinical research opportunities on campus and active seminar series, especially at CTRC ? the only NCI-designated Cancer Center in South Texas, and strong across-the-board institutional support from the PI's department chair to the university president. This sole NCI-funded T32 Training Program at our institution is uniquely poised to train a diverse cadre of upcoming cancer researchers because a large number of underrepresented minority (URM) trainees are attracted to our program making this a unique opportunity to enrich the diversity in the pool of future independent investigators working in cancer research.
A steady stream of new researchers is necessary to continue the fight against cancer, the primary cause of death in the U.S. The training of a diverse workforce is a key component to the next generation of scientists. Giving trainees a broad exposure to the many areas of cancer research will empower them in applying multidisciplinary approaches to combat the disease.
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