Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms in Cancer

Investigator: Zena Werb, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Cancer Institute

Location(s): United States


The objective of this training program is to provide post-doctoral fellows with didactic and research experience in cellular and molecular aspects of cancer to prepare them for independent investigative careers in basic and translational cancer research. The program forms the core of cancer biology training in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDCCC) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The faculty, who are all members of the HDCCC, consists of basic researchers, laboratory-based physician-scientists, and more applied clinician-investigators who share common interests in the multifaceted fields of cellular, molecular and structural biology applied to the understanding of mechanisms of cancer initiation, progression, diagnosis and therapy. The areas of didactic and research training will expose trainees to a spectrum of approaches, concepts and opportunities from altered gene and protein structure and expression, cancer microenvironment and immunity, cell cycling and signaling to differentiation and development. The goal of this approach is to further the understanding of cancer incidence and progression so that the trainees will have an appropriate perspective to approaching basic cancer research as well as to address, prevention, biomarkers and translation to patients. Post-doctoral trainees will join one of 30 research groups involved in studying these basic mechanisms. To broaden their experience, the trainees will have secondary mentors and will be encouraged to seek out collaborations with other research groups at UCSF or outside. Trainees will have access to all the academic resources available at UCSF. In this way, trainees will be provided with an in-depth research experience in an environment that covers the broad forefront of molecular and cellular dysregulation in cancer. Seminar programs, research-in-progress discussions and journal clubs complement the research training. Trainees must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in cell or molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry or an applicable discipline, or an M.D. or M.D., Ph.D. The trainees will be selected on the basis of past accomplishments and promise, course work, grades achieved, suitability for the research projects and a commitment to a research career. Trainees will receive a stipend for an average of 2 years, but will be part of the program throughout their training period of at least 3 years. The program will consist of 10 trainees, complemented by the larger group of other trainees in the host laboratories to make a significant critical mass of basic cancer researchers in the CCC. Upon completion of the program, it is anticipated that the trainees will continue careers in basic and translational cancer research in academic institutions, governmental agencies or the biotechnology industry.