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University of California, San Diego — Cancer Research in Nanotechnology (CRIN)

University of California, San Diego

Principal Investigator: Dong-Er Zhang, Ph.D., and Andrew Kummel, Ph.D.

Training Focus and Objectives

This training program seeks to address two issues (1) In spite of all of the research advances in cancer biology and application of these discoveries to the clinic, cancer therapies have had limited success in prolonging life.  Engineering approaches have begun to show promise, but there is a dearth of investigators who are trained in both cancer research and engineering/materials science. (2) Current PhD and postdoctoral training in cancer research focuses on preparing trainees to be independent researchers, but it doesn’t provide a comprehensive set of skills for young scientists who, when starting their careers in academia, will be working closely with small/startup pharmaceutical or device companies or who may even work in a small firm before reentering academia.  There is a synergy in addressing both issues since young scientists with cross training in nanotechnology and cancer biology are well positioned to work in collaboration with or work in small pharmaceutical or medical device companies focused on cancer.  The program provides trainees with a balanced combination of (a) a comprehensive cancer biology, engineering, and entrepreneurship didactic training, (b) laboratory experience mentored by both a basic science cancer researcher and clinical/translational cancer faculty (“dual” academic mentors), and (c) practical skills learned by having the trainees work directly with small business entrepreneurs and for trainees choosing an academic career path, they were present research proposals as well as make oral presentations at conferences.

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