Recent advances in understanding cancer, combined with unprecedented access to patient DNA sequence data, and new rational therapeutic approaches create the need for a revolution in Ph.D. training of scientists. We have developed a new Cancer Biology Training Program that will take advantage of the high caliber of biologists at Yale, the commitment to multidisciplinary training in the life sciences, and the close collaboration of Yale cancer biologists and clinicians fostered by the Yale Cancer Center (YCC) to provide a unique cancer-focused training experience intended to spawn the next generation of cancer scientific leaders. Training will cover the genetic and biological underpinnings of cancer, the pathway to development of new therapies based upon this knowledge, and the practical challenges in applying these new therapies in cancer clinics. Predoctoral trainees will be trained in foundational biological areas through course work in fundamental areas of biology and physiology and join the program in their second year. Postdoctoral fellows will join the program early in postdoctoral training. All trainees will be spend 90% of their time in laboratory research projects mentored by highly qualified faculty who are leaders in disciplines of cancer research including tumor virology, cancer immunobiology, cancer genetics and epigenetics, stem cell research, pharmacology, and signal transduction. The program will begin by training two new predoctoral and four new postdoctoral trainees each year, with funding for one of the predocs and three of the postdocs to be provided through this T32. For predoctoral trainees, the training experience will include three research rotations and didactic and seminar courses, and continue with qualifying examinations and written dissertation in a projected period of five years overall. Postdoctoral training includes participation in research seminars and talks. Cancer-specific training provided for all trainees by the program will include three formal courses: 1. a general survey class covering basic principles of cancer biology and genetics; 2. a seminar course in which selected topics will be analyzed and discussed in depth, and a clinically-oriented workshop that covers clinical trials, 3. patient treatment patterns and clinical questions for major diseases; and personalized cancer medicine based on tumor resequencing. Every trainee will have a clinical co-mentor to foster exposure to clinical concepts through tumor boards and clinics.
The proposed new program will provide training in translational cancer research for predoctoral and postdoctoral PhD trainees who will become leaders in cancer investigation leading to major improvements in cancer treatment. The program will capitalize on the depth and quality of cancer research and clinical efforts at Yale, includinga significant commitment to therapeutic translation. Seasoned PhD trainers working in close collaboration with clinical co-mentors will provide rigorous training in fundamental biological principles combined with a deep focus on cancer scientific and clinical challenges.
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