Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Training Program in Cancer Biology and Therapeutics


ABSTRACT The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center proposes to renew its T32 Training Program in Cancer Biology and Therapeutics, supporting mentorship of seven physician scientists (MDs and MD/PhDs) for careers in cancer research. With a 20-year history, the program has enrolled multi-disciplinary trainees who have completed clinical fellowships in medical, surgical, pediatric, or radiation oncology, and supported their training in laboratory-based or clinical cancer research. The program aims to prepare the next generation of physician scientists for academic careers in oncology, strengthening fundamental research in cancer biology and its translation into clinical therapeutics. Program co-Directors are Dr. Daniel Haber, an accomplished laboratory-based cancer genetics investigator and Dr. Alice Shaw, a leading clinical researcher in thoracic oncology. They will oversee all administrative aspects of the program, with Dr. Haber overseeing the mentoring of lab-based trainees and Dr. Shaw overseeing the mentoring of clinical research trainees. An Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) will participate in the competitive selection of trainees and in the selection of faculty for the roster of mentors; an External Advisory Committee (EAC) will convene annually to evaluate the strategic direction and success of the program. Mentors are drawn from multiple disciplines and departments, primarily from MGH, and including selected faculty from neighboring MIT and other Harvard institutions. Special emphasis has now been placed on recruiting new mentors in the emerging field of cancer immunology. Trainees are selected across multiple clinical oncology specialities, from programs that are among the most competitive in their respective fields, with a commitment to enhancing diversity. In addition to facilitating the selection of an appropriate research mentor, the T32 program provides both mandatory and optional courses, as well as a broad range of educational experiences. The formal educational offerings have been strengthened with required didactic courses in biostatistics/computational biology and in the ethical conduct of research, along with specialized optional courses. Trainees will now present their work at an annual retreat. PDs and the IAC will be involved in the evaluation of their progress. Success is measured by trainees' academic productivity during and after their T32 support, as well as by their self-reported learning experience. In summary, the MGH T32 Training Program in Cancer Biology and Therapeutics has a long track record of success in providing a rigorous and comprehensive scientific foundation to outstanding physician investigator trainees who aim to establish successful academic research careers in oncology. The program's strength in multi-disciplinary training and integrated laboratory and clinical investigation has been further improved with an enhanced focus and dedicated educational resources, as recommended by the reviewers. With continued funding from NIH, this training program will build on its longstanding success in training future leaders in academic oncology and help advance the field of cancer research globally.

Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.