Project Description and Eligibility Requirements

The K12 scholars will undergo a three-year program designed to familiarize awardees with both pre-clinical benchtop basic research and translation of the research to the clinical setting. During the three-year award period, K12 scholars will be provided with 70-80% protected time for required course work and laboratory research with 20-30% of time committed to clinical responsibilities. It is understood that graduates from this program will be wholly prepared to move forward in academic careers focused on translating pre-clinical findings to clinical trial research.

Eligible applicants include both senior fellows eligible for promotion to junior faculty positions as well as junior faculty within the first 3 years of their initial appointments.

This K12 training program will provide awarded scholars with the advanced skills necessary to perform state-of-the-art clinical research and the ability to:

  • Perform clinical therapeutic research that develops and tests scientific hypotheses based on basic science and clinical research findings;
     
  • Design and conduct hypothesis-based, clinical therapeutic protocols and adjunct biological analyses.  Clinician candidates will be able to administer all phases (i.e., pilot/Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III) of cancer therapeutic clinical trials that prospectively evaluate both clinical and relevant biological endpoints;
     
  • Conduct cancer therapeutic research in a team research setting in which basic and clinical scientists collaborate and interact to expedite the translation of basic research into patient-oriented therapeutic cancer research;
     
  • Obtain peer-reviewed funding to conduct basic science and translational clinical research, which in turn will enable trained scholars to embark upon careers as successful independent clinical investigators.

Applicants will be required to identify both a laboratory mentor as well as a clinical mentor at MSK able to guide them through the training process. The laboratory mentor will train the applicant in the conduct of clinically relevant laboratory research while the clinical mentor will train the applicant in clinical trial design and the associated approval process. In some select cases, a single mentor may serve as both the laboratory and clinical mentor. It is expected that the applicant’s research proposal is one which involves pre-clinical research that could reasonably be expected to evolve into a clinical trial over the three-year funding period.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a United States citizen or non-citizen national, or have legal admission into the United States as a permanent resident.
     
  • Applicants must have either an MD or DO degree. Applicants with a PhD or combined MD, PhD degrees are NOT eligible.
     
  • Eligible applicants include both senior fellows eligible for promotion to junior faculty positions, as well as junior faculty within the first three years of their initial appointments.
     
  • Applicants from multiple specialties and MSK training programs including medical oncology, surgical oncology, GYN oncology, radiology, radiation oncology, pathology, neurology, pediatric oncology, and infectious diseases will be considered.
     
  • The program will consider similarly eligible applicants from institutions outside of MSK wherein the program will assist suitable applicants in identifying laboratory and clinical mentors at MSK prior to submission of the application.
     
  • Applicants must demonstrate a high level of commitment to a long-term career plan to academic translational clinical cancer research. This program is designed to familiarize scholars in laboratory research but NOT designed to serve as a surrogate to PhD level training or to train laboratory-based investigators.
     
  • K12 scholars may not be the principal investigator on any NIH R-type awards, program project (P01) awards, mentored career (K-type) awards or other similar research grant awards.

What the K12 Program Provides to Scholars

  • Promotion to junior level faculty positions (either instructor or clinical assistant (level 1)) positions at MSK for senior fellow applicants for years 2 and 3.
     
  • Full salary support during the entire three-year training period.
     
  • $20,000 annual additional funding for research and educational costs.
     
  • Three years of both laboratory and clinical mentored support.
     
  • Significant graduate level didactic training in cancer biology as well as clinical trial research.
     
  • Specialized training in grant writing designed to guide scholars in obtaining individual NIH funding, which in turn will promote scholar’s careers as independently funded translational clinical investigators.

K12 Didactic Training and Core Curriculum Overview

The K12 Clinical Oncology Research Training program represents an integration of a series of highly successful research training curricula already in place at MSK. These include a curriculum composed of the CTSA Weill Cornell/MSK Clinical Research Curriculum, selected courses from the Gerstner Graduate School, observerships on institutional protocol approval committees, and interaction with relevant DMT clinical/research teams.

Each trainee is expected to complete a two-year didactic clinical research core of courses provided through the Weill Cornell/MSK CTSA clinical research methodology curriculum. This didactic clinical research core provides scholars with a comprehensive clinical research training foundation to assure that all K12 graduates understand how to conduct clinical research. K12 trainees receive “hands-on” experience in all aspects of phase I, phase II and, where possible, phase III clinical trials. In addition, MSK DMT programs provide K12 scholars with a multidisciplinary approach to cancer management leading to the development of translational research clinical trials. Currently, all medical oncology/hematology fellows in the Department of Medicine and many fellows from other departments participate in Weill Cornell/MSK CTSA training during their first year of clinical research training. Alternatively, internal scholars or selected scholars from outside institutions, who have not previously participated in this didactic clinical research core, will participate in this clinical research core curriculum during their first 2 years of K12 funding.

It is expected that a majority of the senior clinical fellows and junior faculty who apply to the K12 program will not have had sufficiently rigorous training in the basic science of cancer. Thus, clinical research trainees require firm grounding in the basic science of cancer research in order to better understand pre-clinical cancer medicine research for optimal translation to clinical cancer research. To this end, basic research training courses will be provided with additional selective graduate courses to be selected for each K12 scholar as deemed appropriate by the K12 program. The basic research curriculum includes in part selected courses available through the Gerstner Graduate School and as well as core courses in Immunotherapy and Bioinformatics. The didactic and basic research courses enable the trainee to develop a hypothesis that can be tested in a state-of-the art clinical trial. 

Scholars will also be offered training in writing and presenting their research in a three-session course that covers science presentations, networking, and manuscript writing. 

Up to 1 full day of clinical time (20%) is allowed for each candidate. In addition, the candidates are expected to participate in at least two weekly seminars including: The President’s Seminar Series, a weekly Research in Progress meeting in Immunology, Experimental Therapeutics, or the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP), as well as expected participation in other relevant speaker series presented at the institution.

Observerships on MSK institutional clinical trial approval committees: 

A better understanding of the clinical trial approval process will be invaluable for scholars moving towards independent careers in clinical investigation.  To this end, the K12 program will additionally institute an observership program wherein second- and third-year junior faculty K12 scholars will observe the review life-cycle of selected institutional committees involved in the protocol approval process.  Specifically, scholars will follow at least two protocols as they are reviewed by their Departmental review committee, the MSK Research Council, and MSK IRB. Depending on the assigned protocols, scholars may also be asked to observe the IND, biosafety, and radiation safety committees.  

Other educational experiences: The center sits in the midst of a richly collaborative tri- institutional consortium including the Weill Cornell Medical School and the Rockefeller University. Additional off-site short course opportunities will also be encouraged.  One example of such a short course is the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in advanced biostatistics. Funding to attend additional training conferences will be provided through the K12 program. These elective courses can be used for enhancing the education of the K12 candidates but will not be required as part of the core curriculum.