An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
By City of Hope | August 2, 2016



City of Hope continues to lead the way in educational innovation with a new program to train postdoctoral fellows in a specialized area of research that is crucial to understanding how human cancers develop.

Participants in the program will study DNA damage response and oncologic signaling, fields of research that examine cancer at its most basic level.

The program, the first of its kind for Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute. Binghui Shen, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics within Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, is the program’s principal investigator.

Education and training have always been part of City of Hope’s institutional mission, and this postdoctoral training grant makes our cancer center even more comprehensive.” Shen said. “We are very excited to be able to train the next generation of cancer researchers, as we strive to eventually eliminate cancer as a life-threatening disease.”

Timothy O’Connor, Ph.D., a professor and associate chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, is co-director of the program. Jeremy Stark, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics, serves as associate director. Postdoctoral students from throughout City of Hope are encouraged to apply for the three-year program, which will focus on the role of DNA in how cancer develops, grows and spreads.

A basic function of human cells is the ability to repair DNA, which is frequently damaged by environmental, lifestyle and other factors. One of the most common factors of tumor cells is their genomic instability. Although this instability drives the disease process, it also offers a prime opportunity to study not only how cancer develops, but to also classify each cancer type with greater precision.

This new training program will prepare fellows to become competent, proficient and resourceful cancer research scientists,” Shen said. “In addition to individual laboratory training, the program has set up community training courses for grants writing, scientific communications and mentoring."

Each trainee in the program will be mentored by members of City of Hope’s faculty, as well as by National Institutes of Health investigators. Participants will also receive training in state-of-the-art technologies, and take a unique curriculum of scientific coursework and professional development.

The program, which is highly collaborative, includes attendance in workshops, conferences and symposiums. It is designed to provide postdoctoral trainees with a broad range of scientific knowledge, instruction in professional skills and research training in a rapidly growing field. In keeping with City of Hope’s long-standing tradition, program fellows will learn to translate innovative basic research findings into powerful methods for preventing or treating cancer.

Shen said he is eager to work with O’Connor and Stark and the doctors and scientists who will serve as mentors, as well as the postdoctoral training office and administration, to make the new program a success.



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