A centerpiece of NCI's effort against cancer is training and career development programs offered at NCI and at extramural institutions around the country. The programs allow students and professionals at all stages of their careers to develop the skills necessary to conduct basic, clinical, and cancer control research as well as research in the behavioral and population sciences.
The scope of available training programs has now been documented in a report by an NCI commission established to inventory training opportunities and to help plan for the future. The report's findings will be presented on December 7 to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), which advises NCI leadership on issues related to the institute's strategic plan and its intramural and extramural research, including training activities.
"This report is a comprehensive inventory," says Dr. Carolyn Strete, chief of NCI's Cancer Training Branch and chairperson of the committee that prepared the report.
The document, NCI Training and Career Development Inventory, lists the training programs and their statistical profiles over the past 6 years. It also describes how programs are administered and the funding mechanisms involved.
The report shows significant increases in financial support for underrepresented minority researchers seeking training or career development. The number of trainees in the Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Branch, one of the extramural programs supporting training and career development, doubled between FY 1999 and 2004.
The extramural and intramural programs have grown, albeit unevenly, during this same time, while the total number of trainees supported in all programs increased by 26 percent. Support of training and career development also increased substantially, with awards to trainees, fellows, and others doubling from $136 million in FY 1999 to more than $281 million in FY 2004.
"During this period, the grand total spent on all training programs combined was $1.2 billion," says Dr. Strete.
The report will be used by the NCI Training Commission to evaluate the training programs. The Commission's major responsibilities include the promotion of existing training opportunities and development of new ones, training of underrepresented minority researchers, and continued support of new investigators.
In a related announcement, NCI has appointed Dr. John Carl Oberholtzer to be the associate director for training within the Office for Centers, Training and Resources. Dr. Oberholtzer has been a practicing clinical neuropathologist and a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
After joining NCI in January 2006, Dr. Oberholtzer will be responsible for coordinating and evaluating all basic, clinical, and translational training programs across the institute. Day-to-day responsibilities for the administration of the programs will remain with the current offices and staff.
For more details on the training inventory, readers can obtain a copy of the report on the NCI Web site (http://www.cancer.gov) following the NCAB meeting.
By Edward R. Winstead