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Cancer Predoctoral Training Program

Principal Investigators:
Tamaro Hudson, Ph.D. (HUCC), Georgia Dunston, Ph.D. (HUCC), Donald Coffey, Ph.D. (SKCCC) and Norma Kanarek, Ph.D. (SKCCC)

Summer Mentoring Program with Coursework and Direct Experience in Basic, Clinical and Population Cancer Research: Howard-Hopkins Cancer Centers Partnership

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A continuing and evolving program for the Howard-Hopkins Cancer Centers Partnership, the Summer Mentorship Program is an intense summer laboratory placement and special studies course (eight weeks) provided at the Howard University Cancer Center (HUCC) and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins (SKCCC).  The program is custom-designed for each student to match his or her specific interest and needs.  The Partnership Research Training Program Committee (PRTC), which includes Drs. Donald Coffey (SKCCC), Tamaro Hudson (HUCC), Georgia Dunston (HUCC) and Norma Kanarek (SKCCC), are responsible for: 1) recruitment of applicants; 2) selection of trainees; 3) individualized design of training programs; 4) monitoring trainee progress, and 5) presentations at the yearly joint scientific symposium, and participation at yearly fellows research day events; and 6) career development mentorship continuing even after completion of the training program.  Up to ten students, primarily predoctoral (medical and graduate students), will be carefully selected by the PRTC after assessment of their interest and specific needs.  The Selection Committee will work with the student to customize their own course design that will provide clear insights into the state of the art of cancer in their interest area. The utilization of modern techniques with hands on laboratory experiences will be combined with direct observations and application in specific clinical and laboratory situations.  Assigned SKCCC and HUCC faculty members will provide close and continuing mentorship for each student in individual sessions throughout the course.  Formal evaluations by both the faculty mentor and students will be sent to the PRTC and the Partnership Directors.

Program Duration: Eight weeks in May, June, and July (Wednesdays from 10:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Mon.-Tue.-Thurs.-Fri. 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. at the Howard University Cancer Center)

Program Directors:   Drs. Tamaro Hudson, Georgia Dunston, Donald S. Coffey, and Norma Kanarek

Assessing the Individual Interests

Each student submits an extensive description of their specific interests, needs, experiences, and life goals in basic, clinical and population areas of cancer; each must confirm his/her commitment to the time and goals of the program.  In their applications, students submit an essay describing why he/she should be selected for the program.   The application will be reviewed by the HUCC Education and Training Co-PIs.  The final student draft is completed only at the prerogative of the Director of the Howard University Cancer Center. The selected student's application and the review evaluation will be sent to the HU Course Directors prior to the Course Director’s individual meeting with the student to discuss and approve the student's summer project with a HU laboratory faculty member.

Customizing the Course

Three individual sessions with each student will be reserved for customizing the course, mentoring, and evaluation.  The remaining hours will be designed by the student in consultation with the Program Director to maximize the students focus with a HU laboratory faculty mentor. Below is a listing of the topics which may be covered in the customized course. Students will select area and time allotted for each possible topic by the degree of interest and need for the particular student.  For example, majority of time could be spent on one technique, discipline, treatment, mentoring, or cancer type as seen fit and appropriate. An individual timeline will be designed and students will be assigned to mesh with faculty availability and to maximize continuation of existing Howard-Hopkins faculty partnerships when possible.  Overlapping interests will be addressed in shared sessions or interactions.  Medical students may choose a clinical rotation while PhD students may opt to shadow a particular laboratory. All clinical interactions will conform to policies of the clinic, staff and the Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Privacy policies, safety, and legal considerations and approval must be adhered to in a strict manner.

Topics from the following areas will provide a special focus menu for the student to select from as the basis for their own custom design of their course and experience.. 

Cell BiologyPathologyTissue ArraysOvarian
EtiologyEpidemiologyDNA ArrayCervical
Molecular Biol.GeneticsExpressionBreast
Cell SignalingImmunologyProteomicsProstate
ApoptosisNuclear Med.HistopathologyBladder
Stem CellDevelopmentPCRColon/Rectum
AngiogenesisStatisticsClinical TrialIntestine
MetastasisNutritionDNA SequenceHead/Neck
CarcinogenesisMed.Onco.Inhib. RNABrain
ChromosomesCyto GeneticsMicroscopyBone
Animal ModelsPsychiatryTransgenicSarcoma
DNA MethylationEthnicityCell CultureLymphoma
Drug DevelopmentEconomicsGene TherapyRetinal
Pain/MorbidityEurologyPain ControlGrowth Factors
EndocrinologyMetabolism/HypoxAlternative TherapiesPsychology/Placebo

Minority ethnic and racial role models from the faculty and student levels will have one-on-one interactions to council, mentor, and establish professional contacts.  The program for the summer will be individualized as much as possible.

Specific HU and JH investigators in clinical, laboratory or population research will spend individual time with each student selected and matched based on the student’s interest.  Time spent at HU is mainly dedicated to the laboratory project assignment and the special studies coursework. Time spent at JH augments their HU contacts and mentoring with opportunities to learn about other topics through didactic lectures, conversations with selected faculty (e.g., about Howard Hughes Fellows Program), individualized and group mentoring, and exploration of specific JH resources. At the end of the experience, the student will be expected to develop a poster presentation of their project and write a summary of their own goals and the steps they anticipate to achieve them with a time-line.  Upon review by the mentors the write-up will be discussed with an assigned mentor in a one-on-one fashion.

Predoctoral Training

Full-time predoctoral students will be identified and recruited at HUCC. These students will be predoctoral students at Howard University majoring in one of the basic science or medical school programs coupled with a research interest in cancer. All potentially interested candidates will complete an application based on a formal solicitation using University and Campus-wide media and class visits. The students will be selected by HUCC selection committee comprising the PI and Co-PI as well as the Education Program leaders. The student must have achieved a 3.0 GPA in their academic major and remain in good standing.

The selected predoctoral students will be required to participate in all scheduled cancer education training activities including various cancer lectures at Johns Hopkins and the Howard University special studies course, Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Genomics-Connection to Careers in Public Health Genomics and Precision Medicine (see below).

The predoctoral students will be assigned a research mentoring committee at the very beginning of training and begin to interface with various faculty members of the HUCC. It is also expected that the research mentoring committee will also have at least one faculty member from SKCCC. It will be very important to expose the students to different labs and research focuses so that he/she can decide where and with whom they would like to complete their research for their dissertation. The advantage of the Howard- Hopkins Partnership is that faculty have formed collaborations across institutions that include pre-doctoral students.

Cancer Training and Education

Each student will register for credit or audit the HU Special Studies receive a mandatory core section of seven lectures covering basic information on Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Genomics-Connection to Careers in Public Health Genomics and Precision Medicine.

Special Topics in Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Genomics For Personalized Medicine in Cancer Health Disparities: Although, there were initial efforts by the Partnership to emphasize development of a graduate oncology course the Partnership Advisory committee in conjunction with the Education Committee recommended that a program be created around personalized medicine and cancer health disparities. As a result a special course was created in the summer of 2012 to evaluate Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction with an emphasis on Health Disparities. The plan uses the core course requirement which utilizes the Special Topics course offering schedule during the summer quarter in the Graduate School at Howard University. Predoctoral trainees enrolled in this course could register for 3 credits.  The class would potentially meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in a location to be determined.  The seminar lecture series will address topics that range from the bench (basic science) to bedside (clinical/translational), and community (transdisciplinary) research.  Specific content will include basic science, clinical, and public health health aspects of cancer health disparities research, including education, training, clinical translation, community education and engagement in academic-community partners in participatory research, public health policy, service, and administration.  The specialized course would be taught by faculty from HUCC and SKCCC, who are active investigators in the areas of concentration.

Individualized Training Programs: Individual training was also a focus of the Partnership over the last five years and a plan was developed to provide research training opportunities for surgical residents and doctoral level trainees at Howard who have the opportunity to engage in research during their training.

SKCCC Longviews Session: HUCC prostate cancer researchers attend quarterly Longrifles Conferences at SKCCC and Longviews Sessions at Howard. The Longrifles/Longviews experience is an intense brain storming session focused on a defined area of prostate cancer that is presented in a continuous three hour session. Two to three speakers from different departments and schools give presentations and the audience asks and is asked questions for alternate explanations, for clarification, or for expansion of its application. Faculty, fellows, and students participate equally in a friendly open debate to challenge each other for new concepts. These lively and popular Longrifles sessions are held in the evening, over refreshments, attract sixty to eighty participants and are highly interdisciplinary. Everyone is welcome and participants from Howard University, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene frequently attend. Longviews is the name used when the event is held at the HUCC; attendance at these events is comprised of Howard and Hopkins faculty, staff, and students with the addition of community providers of care.