NCI Summer Curriculum: Strengthening Global Cancer Research Capacity

October 30, 2018, by Yelena Shnayder and Hala Azzam

2018 Principles and Practice of Cancer Prevention and Control course participants and the NCI Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program staff.

Credit: National Cancer Institute

Every year, the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program (CPFP) hosts the NCI Summer Curriculum featuring two courses: The Principles and Practice of Cancer Prevention and Control (PPCPC) and the Molecular Prevention Course. The program provides a multidisciplinary overview of the principles and practices of cancer prevention and control from both the public health and the basic biology perspectives. 

When the NCI Summer Curriculum first began in the early 1990’s, it was designed with U.S. multidisciplinary researchers in mind. Given the need to strengthen cancer prevention and control capacity in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), the Center for Global Health (CGH) partnered with CPFP to target and select LMIC participants to attend the two courses. Since its creation in 2011, CGH has played a major role in recruiting more than 200 LMIC researchers and health professionals into the program. Today, about 80 health professionals, researchers, and policymakers from over 30 countries, including the U.S., participate in each course. Of those, 35% (on average) come from LMICs. The increase in LMIC international attendees over the past few years, while welcomed, has created additional challenges in meeting the needs of such a diverse target audience.

To address the needs of the participants and ensure that attendees gain not only knowledge, but also practical skills they could apply after returning to their home institutions, CPFP wanted to incorporate research proposals into the course. A preliminary assessment of the LMIC target audience and their purpose for attending the course was conducted to shed light into the feasibility and the type of practical training that would be most useful to LMIC participants. Of the 28 LMIC participants who attended the 2017 PPCPC course, the majority identified a cancer-related project (focusing on cancer research, cancer surveillance, cancer prevention, and other areas) as their primary purpose for attending the course. This led to the project concept paper idea.

Project Concept Paper Activity Piloted this Year

PPCPC participants share and recieve feedback on their project concept papers.

Attendees of the 2018 PPCPC course were asked to develop a project concept paper (PCP) in a cancer area of their choice. PCP authors had a unique opportunity to present their papers at the beginning of the course and obtain feedback from NCI experts and their peers, incorporate comments received, and present the refined PCPs at the end of the course. 

The PCP pilot generated a lot of enthusiasm and was well-received by all participants, with 77% indicating it was a very useful activity. Many attendees reported that it helped foster international-to-international collaborations, as well as U.S.-to-international collaborations. Furthermore, some LMIC participants began reporting that the PCP led them to start looking into funding opportunities. One LMIC attendee is in the process of applying for funding to support his project idea advanced during the course, and two attendees are exploring the potential of applying for grants with navigation from NCI experts. CGH and CPFP will continue working together to address the needs of LMIC participants and to promote knowledge sharing among the two programs.

Registration for the 2019 NCI Summer Curriculum will open on November 15, 2018. We invite you to check out the latest program updates and view registration information at https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/cgh/research-training/summer-curriculum-prevention, and read course testimonials at https://cpfp.cancer.gov/summer-curriculum.

Yelena Shnayder, MHS
Public Health Analyst
Center for Global Health

Hala Azzam, PhD, MPH, CPH, CPLP
NCI Summer Curriculum Program Director
Deputy Director Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program
Division of Cancer Prevention

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