With the generous support of the Tow Foundation, CMINT has established graduate and postgraduate fellowships that reflect its focus on translating new discoveries into clinical applications and will help realize its ambitious objectives. The graduate fellowships — undertaken in partnership with Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), all relevant colleges and centers within CUNY, and the Graduate Center-CUNY — support projects at the forefront of science, while the postgraduate fellowships feature a concentration on the complexities associated with the clinical translation of new imaging probes (microscopy, PET, CT, MRI, ultrasound, multimodality, and nanoparticle) in the context of modern oncologic imaging, along with the clinical translation of emerging technologies in cellular therapeutics.
This program builds on an existing successful partnership between MSK and Hunter College that was forged through the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program, in which highly qualified students are mentored in high-impact research projects by CUNY and MSK faculty. The Tow Foundation Graduate Fellowship program is being expanded to include all CUNY colleges to ensure the recruitment of outstanding students who will benefit most from the opportunity.
The program offers a range of benefits, including:
- an increase in the number of first-rate graduate students and PhD scientists pursuing work in the interdisciplinary fields of molecular imaging and nanotechnology, combined for the first time with emerging fields such as cell engineering, made possible by leveraging resources from both institutions;
- the ability to provide highly talented and motivated graduate students with new opportunities to combine both basic research and multidisciplinary translational application components in their PhD thesis; and
- expanded opportunities for CUNY faculty to work with their MSK colleagues on projects that can lead to clinical translation while at the same time integrating highly qualified graduate students into the CMINT and introducing a strong molecular imaging and nanotechnology component to the MSK projects.
Tow Fellowship applications are accepted from students enrolled in CUNY programs — initially in chemistry and expanding to include biology and other fields. Students apply 12 to 18 months after beginning their studies; final selection and placement in an MSK lab, in full collaboration with a Hunter laboratory, is made following a rigorous, highly competitive process that includes interviews with faculty from both institutions and takes into account such criteria as performance for the preceding one or two years (as applicable) at CUNY and the support of an MSK and a Hunter faculty member. Awards are conferred only when the most highly qualified applicants with high-impact projects have been identified.
Fellowship awards cover tuition and a stipend, along with a modest allowance for supplies, while fellows are at MSK. Fellows may also be eligible for medical/dental/vision benefits and subsidized housing (based on availability).
Most PhD scientists in this country are trained in basic and sometimes applied research. A key challenge in preparing them to work in medical or medically related fields is equipping them to perform the translational aspects of their work — that is, how to apply the knowledge they have gained through research to the treatment of humans — and preparing them to meet an array of regulatory, institutional, and legal hurdles prior to the clinical study of a new drug or probe.
It is with this in mind that the Tow Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships directly address the complexities associated with the clinical translation of new imaging probes (microscopy, PET, CT, MRI, ultrasound, multimodality, and nanoparticle) in the context of modern oncologic imaging, along with the clinical translation of emerging technologies in cellular therapeutics.
Tow Fellowship applicants go through a competitive review process. Awards are conferred only when the most highly qualified applicants with high-impact projects have been identified. Projects eligible for funding may include, but are not limited to: MI in cancer biology, small animal imaging of novel constructs, and imaging of infused or engineered cells. To be selected, projects must show exceptional levels of innovation and novelty and offer the prospect of yielding publishable results within two years. The applicants must also identify mentors from any collaborating fields.
Tow fellows are supported at a stipend commensurate with the level of experience. As with other MSK fellows, the awardees are eligible for the MSK postdoctoral benefits package. The awardees also receive a travel and supplies budget of up to $15,000. Fellows are appointed for one year, with possible second year and third year reappointments.
The postdoctoral applicant must devote at least 80% effort to the program. The applicant (PhD, MD, DDS, DVM, DO, or comparable doctoral-level degree) would ideally have one to three years of postdoctoral experience at the time of appointment.