This proposal seeks support for 6 postdoctoral fellows for a training program focused upon cancer epigenetics, a critical area of cancer research. Demand for training in this area has steadily increased, highlighting the crucial need for robust training programs. Surprisingly, no NCI-funded training program focused on this topic currently exists. UNC-Chapel Hill has recently emerged as a ?hub? for epigenetics and cancer research, with over 35 faculty who actively perform epigenetics-focused research. Thus, we propose to create the first Cancer Epigenetics Training Program (CETP), leveraging our expertise in the area of chromatin and cancer biology with the resources of the University and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC). This pool of preceptors will allow fellows to engage in interdisciplinary studies across the subspecialties of cancer epigenetics: Histone Biology, DNA Methylation, Chromatin Remodeling, RNA and Chemical Biology. The CETP program will be administered by a Director and Associate Director, with advice from a Training Oversight Committee and External and Internal Advisory Boards. Program evaluation will also include preceptor and trainee input via an annual, anonymous survey. Access to the LCCC?s core facilities, supported by the NCI Core Grant (rated ?exceptional?), will further enhance the training environment. The LCCC will also provide significant support by funding of training events, yearly EAB visits, travel and lodging costs for interviews and for trainee travel to scientific meetings and salary support for program directors and staff. Fellows will jointly apply to the CETP and one or more mentor laboratories and undergo a rigorous selection process. Upon appointment, each fellow will develop a training plan approved by the preceptor, the Director, and Associate Director and establish a mentorship committee. During their first 2 years in the CETP, each fellow will participate in the following training events: (i) CETP colloquia that cover the breadth of epigenetics in the context of cancer development and treatment, (ii) a yearly CETP symposium to present current research projects, (iii) training in ethics in research (iv) a monthly research club, and (v) a grant writing and grant review program. Based on their individualized training plans, fellows may also participate in relevant training events sponsored by the LCCC. Progress will be monitored annually by the Director and Associate Director, along with the Training Oversight Committee, before renewal for Year 2 support. Although fellows are supported for two years, our trainees will be active in the CETP program and participate in multiple events throughout their tenure at UNC. The CETP will recruit trainees from underrepresented minorities through outreach to historically black and Hispanic universities and our yearly symposium on cancer epigenetics. The trainees who complete the CETP will be poised to become independent investigators focused upon this vital new area of cancer research.
The Cancer Epigenetics Training Program in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will provide exceptional training in the critical new area of cancer epigenetics for 6 postdoctoral fellows per year. This emerging field has already led to the development of novel and effective therapies for several human cancers. With our outstanding mentors and able leadership team, the proposed training plan will yield the next generation of young scientists who focus on the role of epigenetic changes in human tumor development.