Cancer Prevention Fellowship

Program Description

The joint Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Educational Program in Cancer Prevention aims to train the next generation of scientists who will be skilled in transdisciplinary approaches to cancer prevention and control. Although all areas of interest in cancer prevention are welcome, we include a particular emphasis on cancer disparities, implementation science, health communication, global cancer, and population science methods.

This program draws on the teaching, scientific research, and field activities of Harvard Chan, and institutional members of the Dana-Farber Harvard/Cancer Center, including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  The clinical resources and scientific facilities of these institutions form the basis for a comprehensive education program in cancer prevention and control. The National Cancer Institute funds this program.

The National Cancer Institute funds this program.  To be eligible, applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident.

Leadership: Karen M. Emmons, Ph.D and Lindsay Frazier, MD.

Trainees: 4 pre-doctoral fellows, enrolled in the Population Health Sciences PhD Program; 4 post-doctoral fellows.

Structure of the Program

Trainees complete a combination of core curriculum, mentored research activities, and seminar participation. Trainees’ experience is tailored to meet their professional needs.

Core Curriculum: The Core Curriculum includes two courses required of all fellows:

  • Cancer Prevention (EPI 224) Topics range from genetics and cancer biology, cancer prevention and control methodology and strategies, and biomarkers.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (HPM 548) This ethics course is a Harvard Chan requirement for all trainees funded by NIH grants.

Cancer Prevention Seminar Series:

All fellows are required to participate in a monthly seminar series with other trainees in this Program. Trainees present from their own work, thereby providing a breadth of perspectives on cancer prevention. In addition, the seminar series focuses on career development.

We will also host a Cancer Prevention speaker each year, featuring leading researchers from other institutions. We expect the fellows to attend these, and will provide opportunities to fellows to meet individually and/or as a group with the speakers.

Mentored research: Each fellow will work with a primary mentor and secondary mentor, and other program faculty. The fellowship provides fund for research-related activities. We utilize a developmental network mentoring approach that builds a network of support across career development stages.

Grant preparation and writing training: Fellows will prepare (not submit) a small grant (R03, R21) or a K-series grant. Pre-doctoral fellows do this in the course of the methods sequence, and post-doctoral fellows with their mentoring team.

Flexibility

In addition to the core requirements noted above fellows and their mentors customize the program to the individual trainees based on their specific interests and career goals. Flexibility in the training program is particularly important because the field of cancer prevention is developing rapidly. Future leaders in this field will come from many different backgrounds and will need to work together in the design and implementation of prevention programs. Because national priority areas for the prevention of cancer will continue to change over time, trainees must be conversant with principles of each component of cancer prevention and be prepared to shift their focus. Our vision in crafting the program reflects the need to have a broad overview of the field of cancer prevention, a shared body of core knowledge for all trainees, and the tools to identify priority opportunities for prevention and control of cancer.  Current priorities for the program include, but are not limited to: 1) implementation science; 2) cancer disparities; 3) global cancer prevention; 4) health communication; and 5) population science methods.

Research Experiences

The Harvard Cancer Prevention Education and Career Development Program aims to prepare independent scientists who can function in complex team settings and highly interdisciplinary team research settings. The Program requires that every trainee participate in ongoing cancer prevention research, and develop skills in transdisciplinary science.  The level of involvement differs for pre- and post-doctoral fellows, as described above. All post-doctoral fellows will have one 3-month research placement outside of their primary mentoring relationship in order to expand their skill set.

Each fellow works with a primary mentor who has a faculty appointment at Harvard School of Public Health, or Harvard Medical School. Additionally, fellows identify one or more secondary mentors, who may be Harvard Chan faculty members or researchers in cancer prevention and control outside Harvard Chan. The mentors work with the fellows to develop individualized training plans that are tailored to the learning objectives and career goals of the individual fellow. It is expected that post-doctoral fellows will participate as members of one or more research teams, with specified research responsibilities. Pre-doctoral fellows place their primary focus on completion of the doctoral degrees; original research is required of all trainees earning doctoral degrees and is supervised by our teaching faculty engaged in ongoing projects.

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 based on interest and experience.