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Research Requirements

Research Requirements
City of Hope's Cancer Genetics Career Development Program (CGCDP) promotes a dynamic exchange of information and ideas and a strong team-oriented approach to cancer genetics research.

To fulfill their CGCDP research requirements, trainees must:
  • Choose a topic for research (with assistance of primary mentor) and select one or more cross-disciplinary mentors to assist in project design and implementation by week ten of the first traineeship year.
  • Develop a project outline and timeline for completion by the first academic quarter and research progress reports on a quarterly basis thereafter. These are reviewed by the primary and cross-disciplinary mentor(s) and Executive Committee to allow for direction and guidance in completion of the project.
  • Present work before a traineeship conference, held at completion of the first traineeship year.
  • Second-year Fulfillment Requirements for Physician Trainees: Complete a second year of traineeship focused on additional research experience and crystallization of career development plans in cancer prevention and control research.
  • As part of the thesis requirements, prepare a grant proposal (PHS398 format), with the preliminary results section generated through a research project conducted by the trainee with the guidance of the research mentor. Intramural peer review by thesis committee staff and/or extramural review as a proposal submitted to the NIH, such as the Cancer Prevention, Control and Population Sciences Career Development Award (K07).
  • Depending on the individual trainee's prior experience and accomplishments during the traineeship, they may be appropriate candidates for the NCI Transition Career Development Award (K22) as a bridge to independent research leadership posts. The Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) is also a possible pathway for Trainees who show exceptional promise in clinical research.
  • All trainees can choose project mentors from a wealth of intra- and extra-mural researchers, all of whom have ample mentorship experience and funding to support the trainee.
  • Appropriately qualified trainees with more significant prior research experience may seek a research project grant (R01).
  • Additionally, second-year trainees will assume the role of Chief Trainee, providing continuity and peer mentorship for subsequent first-year trainees, which includes continued research activities for thesis development and coursework leading to Master’s degree qualification, as well as teaching duties and curriculum development.

Cross-disciplinary Research Mentors

Specialized training in the emerging discipline of cancer genetics requires a highly focused interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in order to capitalize on rapid advances in basic scientific knowledge and to maximize the potential benefits to science and society. The diverse experience of the investigators and the multidisciplinary infrastructure of City of Hope’s Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, combined with its collaboration with leading City of Hope/Beckman Research Institute and University of Southern California researchers and educational programs, give the Cancer Genetics Career Development Program the robust resources required to produce world class investigators and mission-critical allied health professionals who will contribute significantly to the growing body of cancer genetics research.
The CGCDP draws upon the knowledge and experiences of a diverse faculty and consultants who are nationally recognized experts in their fields. A partial listing of City of Hope mentors, faculty members and extramural consultants represents the multiple disciplines germane to comprehensive cross-disciplinary training in cancer genetics research. Mentors were chosen from among City of Hope and USC faculty to represent a broad spectrum of relevant basic science and clinical research disciplines. Additional researchers with investigational focus related to chosen research projects are also accessible to allow Trainees to tailor their mentorship specifically to their project design and research goals. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed training, each Trainee will have at least two mentors with expertise in different disciplines.

City of Hope Cross-disciplinary Mentors:
Jeffrey N. Weitzel, M.D.
Chief, Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics
Professor of Oncology Population Sciences
Director, Cancer Screening & Prevention Program Network
Director, Cancer Genetics Education Program
Areas of expertise: Clinical cancer genetics, health services research, molecular oncology, disparities and Latino health, targeted therapy for hereditary cancer and clinical prevention.
Kathleen Blazer, M.S., C.G.C., Ed.D.
Cancer Risk Counselor; Assistant Director, Cancer Genetics Education Program, Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics
Areas of expertise: Clinical cancer genetics, genetic counseling, education, bioethics
Kimlin Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D.
Director, Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education (CCARE)
Areas of expertise: Community participatory research, Behavioral Science, minority and disparities research

William Bennett, M.D.
Associate Professor, Division of Thoracic Surgery
Areas of expertise: Molecular epidemiology and environmental carcinogenesis

Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Division of Cancer Etiology
Dean for Faculty Affairs
Area of expertise: Cancer epidemiology

Ravi Bhatia, M.D.
Director, Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research
Co-leader, Hematologic Malignancies Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor, Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation
Areas of expertise: Regulation of normal and malignant hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, therapeutic targeting of malignant stem cells, and hematopoietic stem cell therapeutics

Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H.
Chair and Professor, Department of Population Sciences
Associate Director for Population Research and Co-leader, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, Center for Cancer Survivorship
Director, Outcomes Research
Staff Physician, Pediatrics
Areas of expertise: Cancer epidemiology, Quality of Life research/survivorship; issues related to long-term complications among survivors

Shiuan Chen, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Tumor Cell Biology
Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Cancer Biology
Co-director, Breast Cancer Program
Areas of expertise: Hormonal breast cancer biology, aromatase, natural compounds

Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., F.A.A.N.
Professor, Division of Nursing Research
Areas of expertise: Nursing research, qualitative methods, ovarian cancer quality of life, survivorship

Stephen J. Forman, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Chair, Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation
Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation
Co-leader, Hematologic Malignancies Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Clinical Director, Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology
Professor, Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research
Visiting Associate, Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology
Areas of expertise: Hematology, bone marrow transplantation, stem cell therapy, breast cancer

Marcia Grant, D.N.Sc., F.A.A.N.
Director and Professor, Division of Nursing Research
Areas of expertise: Qualitative and quantitative outcomes in cancer care, nursing research, education, Quality of Life

Richard Jove, Ph.D.
Director, Beckman Research Institute
Deputy Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Morgan and Helen Chu Director’s Chair, Beckman Research Institute
Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine
Areas of expertise: Regulatory mechanisms of STAT signal transduction pathways and the roles in oncogenesis

Theodore Krontiris, M.D, Ph.D.
Director Emeritus, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine
Areas of expertise: Genetic risk and disease, unstable repetitive genetic elements, multiplex modifier gene interactions

Garrett Larson, Ph.D.
Director, Genetic Markers Core
Associate Research Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine
Areas of expertise: Molecular genetics, cancer sib-pair studies, SNP and haplotype analyses

Lucille Leong, M.D.
Professor, Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research
Areas of expertise: Medical oncology, experimental therapeutics, clinical trials, graduate education

Marcia M. Miller, Ph.D.
Director, Electron Microscopy Core Facility
Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Area of expertise: Immunogenetics

Susan L. Neuhausen, Ph.D.
Morris & Horowitz Families Professor in Cancer Etiology and Outcomes Research
Professor, Department of Population Sciences
Areas of expertise: Molecular genetics, hereditary breast and ovary cancer genetics, BRCA gene modifiers

Joyce Niland, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Department of Information Sciences
Edward and Estelle Alexander Chair in Information Sciences
Associate Director for Information Sciences, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director and Professor, Division of Clinical Research Information Management
Areas of expertise: Biostatistics, biomedical informatics and clinical trials

Timothy O’Connor, Ph.D.
Professor, Division of Biology
Areas of expertise: DNA repair and genomic stability in cancer

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Cancer Biology
Lester M. and Irene C. Finkelstein Chair in Biology
Co-leader, Cancer Biology Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Areas of expertise: epigenetics and mutagenesis

John J. Rossi, Ph.D.
Lidow Family Research Chair
Dean, City of Hope's Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
Chair and Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Associate Director for Laboratory Research and Co-leader, Cancer Biology Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Areas of expertise: RNA biology, cancer and gene therapy, ribozymes, si-RNA

Binghui Shen, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Radiation Biology
Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Cancer Biology
Areas of expertise: Biology of structure-specific nucleases, susceptibility to cancer, and genomic stability

John Shively, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Department of Immunology
Associate Dean, City of Hope's Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
Areas of expertise: CEACAM genes, breast cancer proteomics, prostate cancer

Andrea Thornton, Ph.D.
Chief, Division of Psychology
Assistant Professor and Psychologist, Department of Supportive Care Medicine
Assistant Professor of Behavioral Oncology, Department of Population Sciences
Areas of expertise: Molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutic research

Yun Yen, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Director for Translational Research, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. & Mrs. Allen Y. Chao Chair in Developmental Cancer Therapeutics, Endowed Chair
Co-leader, Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor and Chair, Molecular Pharmacology
Professor, Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research
Areas of expertise: Molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutic research
External Mentors:
Victoria Cortessis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California
Areas of Expertise: Epidemiology and of breast cancer and hormones; SERMS and AI

Harry Burke, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Director and Director of Research, Department of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine
Areas of Expertise: statistical modeling of gene microarrays and protein spectra, predominately in cancer

Rowan Chlebowski, M.D.
Principle Investigator, Women’s Health Initiative site
Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Areas of Expertise: Epidemiology and of breast cancer and hormones; SERMS and AI

Victoria Cortessis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California
Area of Expertise: Epidemiology of familial testicular cancer

Fergus J. Couch, Ph.D.
Mayo Clinic
Areas of Expertise: Molecular genetics, HBOC genetics, BRCA gene modifiers

Roberta McKean-Cowdin
Assistant Professor, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California
Areas of Expertise: Brain cancers and tumors in children; breast cancer; variant genes

Steven Narod, M.D.
Chair, Breast Cancer Research, Centre for Research in Women's Health, University of Toronto
Areas of Expertise: Hormonal determinants and modifiers of cancer risk in BRCA carriers, familial risk modeling

Malcolm Pike, Ph.D.
Thornton Chair and Professor, Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California
Areas of Expertise: Cancer epidemiology, hormonal chemoprevention

Research Projects

The studies notedon this pagerepresent merely a sampling of multidisciplinary investigations with collaborative involvement of City of Hope researchers from theareas of medical and surgical oncology,nursing research and education, social services andclinical cancer genetics, as well as international researchers. Trainees may participate in these and other studies as part of their clinical research training in cancer genetics.

All of the projects ongoing in the divisions of Clinical Cancer Genetics (CCG) and Nursing Research and Education(NRE) are open to Cancer Genetics Career Development Program (CGCDP) trainees.
Clinical Cancer Genetics Research Program
The Cancer Screening & Prevention Program Network (CSPPN) dovetails with laboratory research projects on detection of predisposing germline mutations, co-factor or modifier gene research and behavioral outcomes research. The multidisciplinary team has developed an IRB-approved confidential registry (#96144: Molecular Genetic Studies of Cancer Patients and Their Relatives), which allows patients who attend the CSPPN to participate in laboratory and psychosocial cancer genetics research projects. This registry protocol facilitates the collection of data on perceived cancer risk, as well as epidemiological, personal medical and family history, and biologic reagents for ancillary studies. Trainees may participate in ongoing clinical cancer genetics investigations currently underway, including:
  • Communication, content, and impact of genetics in breast cancer: A three-year study funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program (PI: Deborah MacDonald, RN, MS, APNG.), its aims are to describe the characteristics, motivations, and concerns of women presenting for genetic counseling/testing for breast cancer predisposition and to measure the impact of genetic counseling/testing on risk perception, concerns about cancer, risk management practices, general mood and distress, and communicating risk.
  • Innovative Underserved Community-Based Cancer Risk Screening Project: After a successful pilot, CCG was recently granted an R01-level full award to establish a research collaboration with the underserved community organizations QueensCare Health & Faith Partnership and Olive View Medical Centerto determine the feasibility of establishing cost-effective cancer risk assessment services through research collaboration -- facilitated by modern teleconferencing and internet-based support -- between a Center of Excellence in clinical cancer genetics and community-based organizations that provide care to large multiethnic underserved populations. A long-term goal of the project is to decrease the incidence, severity, and death rate of cancer by creating a model for culturally appropriate, cost-effective genetic cancer risk assessment services to low-income, underserved, multiethnic populations.
Nursing Research and Education
Since its inception in 1966,  Nursing Research and Education programs have focused on two central issues: quality of life for cancer patients and survivors and symptom management, especially related to pain control. Drs .Marcia Grant (Co-investigator) and Betty Ferrell have funded training grants in pain management and end-of-life care. Dr. Grant is principal investigator of an annual research course funded by the NCI (CA09486) since 1984 for pre- and post- doctoral oncology nursing students. Studies by Dr. Grant and colleagues in quality of life began in the early 1980s with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and have included patients with colostomies, cancer patients with uncontrolled pain, cancer survivors, breast cancer patients, family caregivers, and patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation. Her studies in pain management education began with the Pain Resource Nurse Training Program implemented in 1992 to prepare nurses to function as a resource and role model for nursing assessment and intervention in pain management.

The program includes:
  • Training of 32 multidisciplinary teams to serve as role models and catalysts to change the practice of pain management in their own institutions
  • A course for nurse educators, who provided pain management knowledge and related teaching approaches to undergraduate nursing school faculty
  • A course to improve the management of pain using a performance improvement model for nurses from acute and ambulatory settings
Other studies focus on examining coping strategies in breast cancer patients completing radiation therapy and comparing quality of life outcomes in survivors of bone marrow transplant and in ostomy patients. These multidisciplinary studies involve investigators in radiation oncology, hematology, medical oncology, social work, and clinical genetics. The clinical research involves qualitative and/or quantitative designs, and focuses on patient behavior.



Thesis Requirements

A thesis is required of all trainees. The thesis consists of a research project – chosen from relevant work during the training period – approved by both the research mentor and the Executive Committee (including the principal investigator and primary mentor from the Career Development Program). Trainees write their theses in the form of a grant proposal (PHS398 format; requirement for the research traineeship), the “preliminary results” section of which will contain data derived from the trainee’s approved research project.

For the Master's degree, the doctoral trainee is examined by a Thesis Committee consisting of three faculty/researchers at City of Hope/University of Southern California (USC), including a Committee Chair, who must have an adjunct or full appointment at USC, and has primary responsibility in approving the final project. Drs. Weitzel (City of Hope) and Azen (USC) are standing members of thesis committees. Both have USC appointments, and Dr. Weitzel is one of at least two mentors assigned to physician trainees. This ensures appropriate use of epidemiology principles in study design as well as sound biostatistical analysis. The Department of Preventive Medicine at USC is committed to the continued development of specialized coursework in genetic epidemiology, as well as to ongoing collaboration with the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics in chemoprevention treatment protocols.
Education and Training
As one of only a select few National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country, City of Hope integrates all aspects of cancer research, treatment and education. We offer a range of programs serving students, post-doctoral trainees, health and medical professionals.

City of Hope’s Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences equips students with the skills and strategies to transform the future of modern medicine.
City of Hope has a long-standing commitment to Continuing Medical Education (CME), sharing advances in cancer research and treatment with the health-care community through CME courses such as conferences, symposia and other on and off campus CME opportunities for medical professionals.
Local and national conferences, in-depth educational training and a certification program provide both current and aspiring health professionals opportunities to further their knowledge in their fields of interest.
City of Hope offers a range of programs and services, such as Graduate Medical Education & Clinical Training, that serve students, post-doctoral trainees, medical professionals and staff.
The goal of the Postdoctoral Training Office is to ensure the postdoctoral experience at City of Hope is rewarding and meaningful to all participants.
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