Brain Tumor Center: Physical Sciences-Oncology Center Training Grant

In 2012, the Brain Tumor Center was awarded a Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC) T32 Training Grant to create a trans-disciplinary training program, converging the physical sciences with cancer biology and fostering a new research field. This is the first time Memorial Sloan Kettering will have a program that trains young investigators to be at the interface between cancer biology and computational biology.

The work proposed in this PS-OC Training Program will produce researchers who are trained in both computational and cancer biology to address questions in cancer research with novel, interdisciplinary techniques. Trainees will be embedded into an already-existing, highly interconnected physical science oncology network to help answer several key questions in oncology. By establishing a physical science oncology training program, we will drive forward the interdisciplinary study of cancer and establish mathematical modeling of cancer as an independent discipline.

One of our research focuses is on the evolutionary dynamics of cancer. Cancer emerges due to an evolutionary process in somatic tissue. The fundamental laws of evolution can best be formulated as exact mathematical equations. Therefore, the process of cancer initiation and progression is amenable to mathematical investigation. One of our labs is interested in questions that are of crucial importance for cancer research, and uses mathematical, statistical, and computational techniques to approach them. In particular, they use applied probability techniques, statistical analyses, and differential equations.

Another part of our research focuses on seeking to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of central nervous system tumors and developing models of these cancers in mice. Brain Tumor Center Director Eric Holland and his colleagues have developed mouse models of many subtypes of gliomas, including the first truly lifelike model of glioblastoma — the most lethal type of brain tumor. These animal models are essential for making the transition from a scientific concept to understanding the behavior of a human tumor.

Program Details

At the start of the program, the two trainees selected will choose one of three projects to work on jointly during their two years.

  • Mathematical framework of tumor development
  • The cell-of-origin of human cancer
  • Novel tools to predict and prevent resistance to targeted drugs and radiation therapy

Throughout the program, trainees will participate in dedicated coursework, seminars, and training. Trainees will present their work at a seminar in the spring of their second year.

How to Apply

Two-year training grants are funded by the National Institutes of Health. The first group of trainees will begin on September 1, 2012. To be considered for this training program, please send your CV and three letters of recommendation to Desert Horse-Grant at by July 13, 2012.