Translational research is one of the major challenges to modern medicine and especially oncology: Everybody wants to practice it, but few areas of medicine do it well. In radiation oncology, we encourage select graduating residents to spend additional research time focusing on the practical aspects of running a clinical-translational research project. The ultimate goal is to make radiation oncology trainees better prepared to develop a career in translational research.
The overall goal of the Department of Radiation Oncology’s Translational Research Fellowship program is to help fellows develop expertise in all aspects of clinical-translational research.
During the fellowship years, fellows will have opportunity to interact with other expert faculty in translational research, both within the Radiation Oncology Department and within the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, but not necessarily limited to these programs. Project ideas and progress will be presented to an ad hoc review panel at least once each year.
Fellows may take part in any aspects of the departmental teaching program for residents and faculty. Participation in departmental Grand Rounds is expected. Fellows also will attend coursework run by the Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center program.
Developing a Research Project
Before entering the program, fellows spend time identifying a viable project for their fellowships. The fellowship program will maintain a menu of potential projects from program faculty. The application process will include a proposed research plan and mentor.
Fellows will be expected to devote 90 percent of their time to the main research project. Fellows can be involved in clinical teaching and clinical rotational coverage in the department.
Duration of Fellowship
The duration of the fellowship is two years, renewable for a third year as indicated by research progress. As with all appointments at the level of fellow, the contract will be renewed annually, subject to satisfactory progress. After successful completion of the fellowship, fellows are expected to have made significant progress on the main research aims. Publication of the research in high-quality journals is one of the goals of the fellowship.
The following are objectives of the Translational Research Fellowship program:
Skills and Competencies
Fellows will learn how to design and carry out a translational research project. This will be achieved by both structured learning and developing a personalized research plan. Understanding the regulations for the acquisition of biomedical samples is critical to the success of many translational research projects. Familiarity with tumor, tissue, or plasma banks and their linkage to clinical outcome data is an important training goal.
Medical and Scientific Knowledge
Fellows will develop a body of knowledge in relation to both the specific fellowship project as well as current translational research topics in radiation oncology. Attending the translational research committees of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG, a national cooperative group funded by the National Cancer Institute) is encouraged. Attending organized seminars at MSK is also an essential part of developing knowledge of the cutting edge of research.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills and Professionalism
Fellows must demonstrate integrity, honesty, and responsibility for the best interests of the department in carrying out this fellowship. Good communication, both written and spoken, is an essential part of the fellowship. Grant applications to support the fellowship are encouraged as part of training.
The Translational Research Fellowship requires that applicants have successfully completed a residency in radiation oncology. The successful applicant will be eligible for licensure in New York State and, in the case of non-US citizens, hold the appropriate visa or work authorization.
The designated program director of the Translational Research Fellowship is Simon Powell, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. He has the authority and accountability for the operation of the program.
The faculty of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering will serve as faculty. In addition, credentialed MSK staff outside the Department of Radiation Oncology may serve as mentors for the fellowship.