Post Docs

The post-doctoral Program

Prior to entering the program, postdoctoral fellows have had training in one or more of the disciplines contributing to the field of cancer prevention. The Program offers training to two categories of post-doctoral fellows:

  • Physician/Scientist, matriculated for a degree (MS/MPH or ScD/DrPH) and research mentoring
  • Post-doctoral (e.g., MD, PhD, EdD, ScD), and focused on mentored research

Not only do candidates come from different backgrounds, but their career goals require different training. Accordingly, we provide two to three years of training support for postdoctoral trainees; incoming post-doctoral fellows are assured two years of training; additional years are granted upon review of the Program Leaders. The Program aims for a flexible approach, allowing them to choose between a number of options that differ in majors of specialization – for example; intervention trials at the work-site, or studies of cancer communications – yet share a common focus on cancer prevention consistent with the overall objectives of the program. Although the Program offers considerable flexibility, each trainee develops a set of learning objectives that structures the fellowship. These objectives are developed in consultation with the advisor and add a focus to course work and research placements.

The two post-doctoral fellowship options include the following:

Physician/Scientist, matriculated for a degree (MS/MPH or ScD/DrPH) and research mentoring: This option provides training for oncologists and other specialists with a strong background in cancer, seeking additional research training in cancer prevention and public health. These fellows may be accepted into a one- or two-year masters program, with the goal of further preparing them for a research career in cancer prevention. Alternatively, physicians may elect to enroll into either of the two doctoral programs Harvard Chan offers, the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) or the Doctor of Science (DSc). These degrees are distinguished only by the fact that the applicant for the Doctor of Public Health satisfies the school-wide requirement for the MPH, either before entry or during the course of the doctoral program. The components of the doctoral program are the same as described above for pre-doctoral candidates. These degrees generally require three to four years of training. After three years of initial support from this educational program, trainees are shifted to other research support funds. Mentoring provided through the Program helps to prepare fellows for writing grants that may support this continued research.

Physician trainees in any of these degree programs are also expected to engage in mentored research experiences. For those completing a one-or two-year masters program, these research experiences may follow the completion of coursework, or may occur during the summer months. For physician fellows earning a doctoral degree, the mentored research is incorporated into their doctoral studies, as described above for the pre-doctoral fellows.

The education program provides a formal training mechanism for oncologists seeking to advance their cancer prevention research skills.

The grant covers $58,000 in salary and $20,000 towards tuition in year 1.  During the second year the grant covers $58,000 in salary plus fringe benefits, and $3,154 towards research expenses.

 Postdoctoral Research Fellows focused on mentored research: Applicants with doctoral degrees in the social and behavioral sciences (e.g. sociology, psychology, economics), epidemiology, biostatistics, nutrition, nursing, genetics, education, health and social behavior, or related fields or with M.D. degrees, may be accepted for a two- to three- year postdoctoral research fellowship which does not result in a degree. These trainees engage in mentored research, leading to participation on one or more ongoing projects in order to gain specialized training in cancer prevention and control. The Program Leaders recommend a primary mentor for each fellow; the mentor’s role is to supervise the research and monitor progress. In consultation with primary mentors, fellows identify one or more secondary mentors, with the aim of gaining diverse perspectives of cancer prevention across disciplines. Fellows will work under the direction of their mentors in collaborative research projects in their area of specialization.

Although they do not take course work leading to a formal degree, these fellows attend and contribute to the Program’s monthly seminar series, and participate in the required courses and workshops in the Specialized Curriculum, described below. In addition, all post-doctoral fellows participate in advanced courses as needed, from the wide range offered in Harvard Chan and extended Harvard curricula.

The grant covers $58,000 in salary and $3,154 for research expenses for two years with possible continuation for a third year.


All incoming fellows must have a primary mentor and at least one secondary mentor representing a different discipline within cancer prevention.  Fellows are expected to meet regularly with their mentors.

Required courses:

  •      Choose one of the following: EPI 213: Epidemiology of Cancer, SBS 219: High-Risk Behavior: Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies, or SBS 508: Successes & Challenges in Health Behavior Change


  •      HPM 548: Responsible Conduct of Research

Participate and present at monthly NCI Cancer Prevention Seminar.

Fellows are encouraged to participate in seminars and workshops sponsored by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention and the DF/HCC Population Sciences Programs.  Fellows are expected to participate in the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention Dialogues for Prevention.

Complete annual program Evaluation Survey.

Complete yearly Tracking Form (document the extent to which program requirements were met in each year)

Each post-doctoral trainee meets with his/her mentor to find learning objectives and identify research that fit with those objectives.  (See attached example of individualized training program)

Develop individualized training plan with mentor. This training plan must be submitted by the end of the first year on the training grant.  Components of the individualized training plan include:

  •  Goals and objectives for the training (learning objectives)
  •  Coursework, including required and other courses
  • Choice of research experience

All post-doctoral fellows engage in research.  Priority is given to placing post-doctoral fellows in research settings that: (1) provide a good match with their career interests; (2) provide opportunities to develop research skills in priority areas defined by the fellow and his/her mentors; (3) offer reasonable opportunities for publication of research findings; and (4) assure that fellows are able to develop and present real or “mock” research grant applications. Timing for the development and submission of grant applications is likely to vary.

All post-doctoral fellows are required to present a grant application during the seminar series at some point during their fellowship.

Physician/scientist matriculated for a degree are expected to meet the requirements of their degree program, and to engage in a mentored research experience.

Post-doctoral fellows focused on mentored research are expected to engage in mentored research experiences.

Prepare either a mock or actual grant application.