Training Future Leaders, Ensuring Future Success
It's always rewarding to be recognized for a job well done, especially when you are so firmly committed to that job. So it's heartening to see that the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) campuses in Maryland have, for the third year in a row, been selected among the top institutions for postdoctoral life sciences researchers in the United States by readers of The Scientist magazine. The accolade is the result of voting by more than 3,500 postdoctoral fellows from the United States, Canada, and Europe based on criteria such as the value of the training they received, access to research equipment and library resources, and good mentoring relationships.
At the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Fellows and Young Investigators retreat last month, it was easy to see the results of this training in action. Clinical and research fellows, visiting scientists, postbaccalaureate fellows, and other young investigators from CCR heard talks from leading NCI researchers and investigators from the extramural community and shared results from their own exciting research - work that is at the heart of advances being made by NCI's intramural programs.
The attendees at this retreat, and their colleagues in cancer centers and other institutions across the country, are tomorrow's cancer research leaders. They will fulfill the promise of everything we are learning and achieving today.
NCI was one of the first National Institutes of Health institutes to establish an office dedicated to training young investigators. The CCR Office of Training and Education, led by Dr. Jonathan Wiest, helps to empower fellows by promoting and organizing training opportunities, implementing new courses and training programs that prepare fellows to become successful independent biomedical researchers, and providing funding mechanisms to reward outstanding research efforts by postdoctoral fellows.
NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics' (DCEG) Office of Education and its chief, Dr. Demetrius Albanes, provide research training for the full range of cancer risk factors, from nutrition to environmental exposures to infectious agents. NCI is such a fertile training ground, in part because of its unique offerings. CCR, for example, has partnered with The Johns Hopkins University to create a new concentration in Hopkins' Master of Science in Biotechnology program called Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery Technologies. This innovative program will recruit immediate postbaccalaureates to work in CCR laboratories on projects related to discovering and developing molecular targets of cancer while they attend classes to earn their master's degrees. DCEG also is partnering with Hopkins and other universities to provide graduate education and research training in cancer epidemiology.
A number of innovative training courses are also offered at NCI, one of the most popular of which is Translational Research in Clinical Oncology (TRACO). This course delves into the general principles of cancer biology and treatment, epidemiology, mechanisms of resistance, metastasis, use of preclinical models, and identification of novel molecular targets. The TRACO course provides an unprecedented opportunity for less experienced researchers to glimpse the future of translational research in clinical oncology and meet leaders in cancer research.
Although we are making - and clearly must continue to make - tough choices about where to best allocate our dollars, I am committed to ensuring that we continue to nurture the careers of young investigators, including those in the NCI intramural program and in the extramural community. Achieving this end is inextricably linked to our 2015 goal.Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach
Director, National Cancer Institute