The goal of the Molecular Imaging: Training for Oncology (MITO) Program, currently in its fifth year, is to train a new generation of researchers to be facile with both the biology and the technology of advanced molecular imaging methods for application to basic, translational, and clinical cancer research. The term “molecular imaging” has been applied to imaging techniques that combine benefits from two complementary scientific developments:
- improvements in the technology of imaging; and
- advances in the understanding of cancer biology, which are then exploited to create imaging probes for the key molecules and related biochemical events that are fundamental to neoplasia.
As medicine becomes more interdisciplinary, training will be needed that provides students with knowledge of relevant biology and research skills in imaging science that will translate into cancer discoveries.
Program Design & Requirements
The term “team science experience” suggests that training is required from two distinct perspectives: clinical researchers need more molecular biology and training in lab imaging methods; while basic researchers need training in lab imaging methods and a more focused and relevant clinical oncology perspective. The MITO Program is designed to meet both of these diverse training requirements.
MITO’s specialized curriculum emphasizes the development of molecular imaging for oncology, and includes didactic training. The focus of the training is on relevant molecular biology and research methodology coursework, instruction in advanced imaging methods, and an individualized research program. Individual research will focus on basic, translational, or clinical interdisciplinary research and experience in advanced methods of nuclear, radiographic, optical, and magnetic resonance imaging/spectroscopy.
The MITO curriculum incorporates several training components:
- Modules in the Imaging Disciplines
A versatile, didactic program covering a wide range of modules in the imaging disciplines, such as Molecular Imaging, Optical and Cellular Imaging, the Fundamentals of Nuclear Medicine Imaging, and Advanced Image Processing.
- Elective Courses
Elective courses in a variety of biology subspecialties offered at The Rockefeller University and at the Weill Cornell Graduate School, and at the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program (Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Institute).
- Laboratory Research
Laboratory research with opportunities to rotate through any of the following three core imaging laboratories:
- Gene Expression Imaging Laboratory: studying reporter gene developments and the molecular biology of developing vectors Laboratory Manager: Vladimir Ponomarev
- Small animal imaging laboratory working in nuclear and optical imaging. Laboratory Manager: Pat Zanzonico
- MRI/MRS imaging laboratory working in small animal imaging Laboratory Head: Jason Koutcher
At the beginning of their participation, trainees meet with a variety of potential mentors before identifying one primary mentor and one secondary mentor who best fit their research interests and program goals.
- Grant Writing Workshops
Fellows are also expected to perform original research in the field of molecular imaging, which will lead to peer-reviewed manuscripts and possibly successful grant funding. Grant writing workshops are provided annually.
- Professional Conferences
Professional conferences throughout the year are attended by researchers to enhance their participation in the MITO Program. Prior fellows have been successful in finishing their projects and have presented their research at various conferences and lectures. National and international conferences attended by MITO current trainees and past graduates include:
- European Congress of Radiology, March 2007
- American Roentgen Ray Annual Conference, May 2006
- European Congress of Radiology, March 2006
- Radiological Society of North America, November 2005
- Society for Molecular Imaging (fifth annual meeting), August 2006
The MITO Program is most suitable for junior faculty MDs and/or PhDs who have completed a postdoctoral experience and would like to embark on full-time research. As the program is funded by the training branch of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fellows’ compensation follows the guidelines provided by the NIH. As part of the Memorial Sloan Kettering research team, fellows are entitled to all privileges available to researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Interested candidates need to submit their curriculum vitae and a statement of research interest to Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Radiology, at the address listed below.
In addition to working with the key mentors, fellows work with basic science mentors from one of the seven Sloan Kettering Institute research programs. See the Research section of this Web site for more information about these programs and other Memorial Sloan Kettering research programs.