Over the last three decades, we have witnessed an explosion in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. However, out of this knowledge has come a relatively small number of successful novel therapies. Historically, surgical oncologists have played an essential role in the advancement of cancer-directed therapies. Additionally, health services research is increasingly important to optimizing care of surgical oncology patients. However, surgeon participation in research efforts has been seriously challenged by ever growing surgical training demands and the complexity of the current health care environment. More than ever it is critical that we make rigorous scientific training an integral part of our surgical training programs. The principal focus of the Surgical Oncology Research Training Program at the University of Alabama- Birmingham (UAB) is to strengthen academic surgical oncology research training by stimulating interested physician-scientists to pursue translational and health services research training in oncology. Only one other program of this nature exists in the Deep South and as a result, residents in the 19 general surgery residency programs in the Deep South are steered toward other funded fields of research training. The overall program goal of the Surgical Oncology Research Training Program is to provide surgical residents, who are strongly motivated toward a career in surgical oncology, with a comprehensive, mentored research experience. The specific objectives of this program are to: 1) provide training in the conduct of basic, translational and health services surgical oncology research through participation in an individual and tailored didactic and mentoring program utilizing the extensive resources of the UAB Department of Surgery, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), the School of Medicine?s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), and an abundance of health services and disparities research programs and centers; 2) develop surgeon-scientists and leaders in academic surgery with an emphasis on surgical oncology; and 3) expand the pool of surgeon-scientists who will be competitive for future research career development and independent research grants. The application includes a pool of successful, experienced trainers from a variety of surgical oncology-related disciplines with research in the following focus areas: cancer etiology and progression, exposure biology, experimental therapeutics, chemoprevention, disparities in cancer outcomes and survivorship. Program leaders have significant past experience with research training programs. The program addresses the evolving field of surgical oncology research through the inclusion of training options in biostatistics and bioinformatics, genomics and disparities. Through its robust cancer research environment and commitment to training, UAB and the UAB Department of Surgery provide an optimal home for this needed program.

Public Health Relevance

Surgeon participation in innovative and translational research efforts has been seriously challenged. Surgical training demands coupled to the complex current health care environment pose a significant threat to academic young surgeons with an interest in research careers. The long-term objective of our research- training program is to increase the number of young trainees committed to investigative excellence in academic surgical oncology.

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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Lim, Susan E
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Medicine
United States
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