Cancer is a disease of aging, with incidence and mortality rates rising dramatically with increasing age. In the U.S., the average age at a cancer diagnosis is 66 years; of the 1,688,780 new cancer cases in 2017, more than 53% are adults age 65 years and older. Sixty-two percent of current survivors are age >65, and will rise to 73% by 2040. These numbers, coupled with aging trends of the U.S. population, portend large and growing cohorts of older cancer patients and survivors in the years to come. Cancer treatment in the older population is challenging and complicated by factors related to co-morbidity, functional status, polypharmacy, social support, nutritional status, and other geriatric relevant domains. Our ability to provide personalized and appropriate cancer care to our rapidly expanding older population is challenged by a shortage of geriatricians to team with oncologists, inadequate geriatrics training of oncologists, and cancer clinical trials that have focused largely on younger patients and have generated little data on elders who are more likely to have multiple comorbidities and varying goals of care. The UNC Geriatric Oncology Training Grant (UNC-GO) is a T32 training application from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) specifically focused on training physicians in clinical/translational or health services research at the interface of geriatrics and oncology. Co-directed by renowned leaders in oncology (Hyman B. Muss, MD) and geriatrics (Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD), UNC-GO will provide two years of training (one new trainee per year) in geriatric oncology research for residents and fellows training in Geriatrics or Medical, Surgical, Gynecologic, Radiation, or Urologic Oncology. UNC-GO trainees will benefit from access to resources and expertise available through the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNC-LCCC), which received an ?exceptional? score of 11 during its most recent review, as well as the UNC-LCCC Geriatric Oncology Program (co-directed by Drs. Muss and Busby-Whitehead) and the UNC Center on Aging and Health (director by Dr. Busby-Whitehead). UNC-GO primary preceptors are UNC-LCCC members and have on average $1.1 million in annual research funding. Upon the trainee?s admission to the program, the UNC-GO Co-Directors and Steering Committee work with the trainee to form a mentorship team that includes a clinician/scientist with Geriatrics expertise. The central component of UNC-GO training is the mentored research experience. Trainees will choose between two research tracks that represent the best research areas that UNC has to offer: clinical/translational and health services research. Under the guidance of the mentoring team, trainees design and conduct one or more independent projects. Trainees address aspects of research ranging from developing the research question and design, to the protocol, methods, instruments, data collection/compilation, data management, analysis, and reporting. Involvement of collaborating experts is expected. Trainees are expected to present their research findings at local, regional, and national scientific meetings, and to have a minimum of one first-author manuscript submitted per year.
Clinician/scientists are greatly needed to conduct research pertaining to cancer treatment in the large and growing population of older adults with cancer, where treatment is challenging and complicated by factors related to co-morbidity, functional status, polypharmacy, social and financial support, nutritional status, and other Geriatrics relevant domains. The UNC Geriatric Oncology Training Program (UNC-GO) is a T32 training application from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specifically focused on training physicians (MDs, DOs) in clinical/translational and/or health services research at the interface of Geriatrics and Oncology. The UNC-GO will recruit from among residents and fellows in Medical, Surgical, Gynecologic, Radiation, and Urologic Oncology, and will provide fellowship support for one to two years with plans to accept one new fellow per year.