Training Program in Translational Brain Tumor Research

Investigator: Joseph Costello, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Cancer Institute

Location(s): United States


Adult brain cancer continues to be a significant challenge to clinicians, with over 20,000 cases diagnosed per year, and the mortality rate still among the highest of all cancers. Because the prognosis for individuals with the most common types of brain cancer remains poor, it is of critical importance that new therapies be developed. This proposal requests funds to support a training program that takes promising young investigators and trains them to understand brain tumor biology and therapy as an integrated whole. Investigators trained in this stimulating, translational and comprehensive manner will provide competent leadership for future research efforts aimed at improved treatments and outcomes for brain tumor patients.

The objective of this program is to provide predoctoral and postdoctoral training for individuals interested in careers in translational brain tumor research. Despite the best efforts of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, and laboratory-based scientists, brain cancer remains among the most deadly of all malignancies. Improvements in brain cancer therapy have come slowly, in part because of the relative dearth of individuals trained in a manner that allows them to communicate with both clinicians and lab-based investigators. This is a renewal application for years 06-10 of the T32 Training Grant in Translational Brain Tumor Research at the University of California San Francisco. The UCSF Brain Tumor Center is the largest program in the nation that focuses on developing translational brain tumor investigators of the future; individuals who can move seamlessly between clinical and laboratory worlds and in doing so can more effectively contribute to the development of new therapeutic interventions for brain tumors. We intend to build upon the training successes in the previous cycle, and to increase the number of trainees and mentors. This application requests support for a postdoctoral Training Program (3 postdoctoral trainees, an increase from 2 currently supported) with trainees selected from the labs and clinics of the faculty. The renewal application also requests support for 1 predoctoral trainee (1 entering and 1 continuing trainee) drawn from the top-tier students in the Biomedical Sciences and Bioengineering Programs. The faculty of the Program consists of 26 mentors, up from 21 in the previous cycle, and a core of 21 research labs whose work has made the UCSF brain tumor community one of the most productive and recognized in the world. Over the course of the two years of support requested, the trainees work with the PIs of these labs and clinics to develop and complete meaningful and significant translational brain tumor research projects, and in the process become fluent in laboratory-based and clinical research techniques. The basic science trainees will also have unique, supervised experiences in clinical neuropathology, clinical neuro-oncology and clinical trial design. At the same time trainees take part in a faculty-led didactic curriculum uniquely focused on brain tumor- related issues and which allow trainees to develop a common language with which to discuss and understand brain tumor biology, diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, and unresolved problems in the field. Additional courses and training events that encourage effective speaking and writing are included, and there is an extensive selection of existing courses to help tailor the educational experience of individual trainees. Evaluation and mentoring mechanisms are included to help ensure success in the program and in attaining future career goals. The UCSF T32 Program in Translational Brain Tumor Research has a strong track record of attracting well-qualified individuals, and in successfully preparing investigators to lead translational brain tumor research teams nationally, and internationally, and joining in the fight against brain cancer.