Program Design and Training Components


This program will support three (3) postdoctoral trainees per year, with each participant expected to remain in the program for two (2) years. The inclusion of MD and PhD trainees fosters a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas that enables trainees to gain different perspectives and allows for cross-disciplinary collaboration among trainees. The OPTICS curriculum is designed to be flexible and is tailored to the needs of each trainee, based on their previous training, area of emphasis, and career goals. The program’s dynamic, small group seminars offer abundant opportunities for receiving and learning to give feedback while supporting an individualized program of coursework. The training provided in core research skills is intended to enrich the immersive mentored research experience.

OPTICS trainees will receive training in the following components:

  • Design, conceptualization, and execution of a significant research project under the guidance of a mentorship team in any area of cancer-focused population health that aligns with the program themes.
    • Elective courses and/or workshops are offered to equip trainees with skills relevant to the planned research project.
  • Core methods necessary for impactful research through coursework, seminars, workshops, and reading groups.
  • Skills required for career building, including protocol development and execution, management, grant writing, team building, patient engagement, dry laboratory organization, and the responsible conduct of research.
    • Professional development training activities are also offered to provide investigators the insights and skills necessary to build independent research careers.
  • Presentation at a research seminar and at a national meeting
  • Preparation and submission of a funding proposal


All OPTICS trainees will receive financial support, including a stipend and funds to cover training expenses, fees, and travel.

Training Expenses

Training expenses may include supplies or equipment. All training expenses must be directly related to the cost of accomplishing your research goal.

Annual Review

All training proposals, effort allocation, and coursework will be reviewed and approved annually by the program directors and mentors and tracked on the trainee’s individual development plan (IDP). In addition to this report, mentors will submit an evaluation of their trainees.