This is a combined training grant from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and Duke University (Duke UNC Immunotherapy Training Grant; DUNC-IMTG). The DUNC-IMTG will train postdoctoral fellows in translational and clinical research focusing on tumor immunotherapy and/or stem cell transplantation immunology. This is an area of rapid growth and interest with exciting new therapies being evaluated in the treatment of patients with multiple different forms of cancer. Despite this intense enthusiasm, these areas are vastly underrepresented in current training programs leading to a paucity of trained investigators to work in these rapidly expanding areas. The DUNC-IMTG supports the training of six trainees yearly at UNC-CH and Duke University. We have identified 21 senior mentors and 3 junior mentors with outstanding qualifications at UNC-CH and Duke University to instruct individuals supported by this training program. These investigators' interests include vaccine design and vector generation, adoptive cellular therapy, novel approaches to understand the function of checkpoint inhibitors, the role of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment and enhancing our understanding of the biology of immune cells in stem cell transplantation. We have an extremely novel mechanism for training with an emphasis on didactic coursework in statistical design, bioinformatics and proteomics, and seminar courses. Importantly, all trainees take these courses together, which allows access to trainees of each institution to world-class instructors from both institutions. All trainees will participate in Immunotherapy Working Groups, which are translational teams that assist in the development of novel immunotherapies, allowing all trainees to be involved in the development of biomarkers and clinical trials for the treatment of patients with cancer. Additionally, we have a robust and comprehensive approach to training underrepresented minorities. Strengths of the program include an extremely strong group of mentors with substantial experience training postdoctoral fellows, an outstanding leadership group with a long history of training translational and clinical investigators, the presence of world-class vaccine and transplant infrastructure allowing for the development and implementation of translational cutting-edge clinical trials and a strong track record of collaborative training grants with outstanding training success between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Finally, we have identified an outstanding group of potential trainees who could participate as trainees in this program. This program combines the mentors, infrastructure and resources of two world-class institutions to provide novel training in a critically important area of clinical and translational research.

Public Health Relevance

This is a combined training program from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and Duke University that is focused on the training of postdoctoral fellows in tumor immunology, tumor immunotherapy and stem cell transplant immunology. The training program is led by two senior investigators, Jonathan Serody MD and Nelson Chao MD MBA who have senior leadership positions at UNC-CH and Duke University respectively. The program seeks to train individuals in translational and clinical immunotherapy with a strong focus on the development of novel translational approaches for the treatment of patients with cancer. In addition all trainees will (1) take didactic classes in bioinformatics and proteomics, (2) participate in Working Groups to understand how to generate clinical trials and FDA INDs and (3) have exposure to patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment. Finally, there are comprehensive approaches to enhance minority recruitment as part of the program.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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Perkins, Susan N
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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Chen, Zirong; Li, Jian-Liang; Lin, Shuibin et al. (2016) cAMP/CREB-regulated LINC00473 marks LKB1-inactivated lung cancer and mediates tumor growth. J Clin Invest 126:2267-79