Program Spotlight: Training Navigation
, by Hana Odeh, Ph.D.
The NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) has led the way in providing training and career development opportunities to enhance and increase diversity in the cancer and cancer health disparities research workforce. For the past 21 years, the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program has provided a continuum of funding and training opportunities for students, trainees, and investigators from middle school to early stage investigators pursuing careers in cancer research.
More recently, about 6 months ago, CRCHD launched a training navigation initiative and brought me on to serve as a training navigator.
What is training navigation? This initiative facilitates underrepresented scholars’ successful entry into the CURE program, assists with the transition to their next independent award, and provides additional training opportunities and resources that help develop the skills required to obtain R-type awards.
In my role as a training navigator, I have the pleasure of interacting directly with potential and existing scholars to provide personalized assistance. I frequently speak with scholars to identify the appropriate CURE funding opportunity tailored for their academic or career stage, and introduce them to the relevant CRCHD program director who manages the funding opportunity of interest. Following this initial navigation, the CURE program directors work closely with potential applicants to address questions, discuss requirements, and provide technical guidance relevant to the applicant’s application.
In addition, I connect trainees and investigators to their Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program (GMaP) regional coordinating directors. GMaP provides career development support by sharing information about funding, job, and career development opportunities, resources, and events. GMaP also provides mentoring and networking opportunities for potential and current CURE Scholars to help further progress scientific and career development.
To date, we have worked with more than 300 potential applicants and scholars transitioning to their next award. In addition to making connections with CURE program directors and GMaP, Training Navigation has provided information about CURE funding opportunities, NIH fellowships, career development resources, and CRCHD professional development events, workshops, and webinars.
We are planning several exciting new activities in the next year, and I am looking forward to exploring additional ways we can enhance the support provided by CRCHD and training navigation to build, nurture, and sustain the next generation of underrepresented cancer and cancer health disparities researchers.