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Prevention Training Program Makes Investment in the Future

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By Katrina Burton, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Preparing health scientists and clinicians for leadership roles as research investigators in cancer prevention and control is the number one priority of MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Research Training Program.

Established almost 20 years ago, the training program follows a comprehensive educational module that captures the trainees' area of specialization and introduces them to other disciplines targeting cancer prevention. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the program offers fellowship positions for graduate research assistants, predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.

"The training program provides opportunities for fellows to launch their careers in externally funded, peer-reviewed research," says Carrie Cameron, Ph.D., instructor and associate director of the training program. "The curriculum offered expands the perspective of the trainees by moving them from their base of strength to training in additional disciplines focused on cancer prevention."



Last summer, with additional funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act       (ARRA), the training program offered new opportunities to undergraduates interested in research careers in cancer prevention.

The Student Research Experiences program allowed students to spend the summer working at MD Anderson. They had access to a research environment that offered extensive epidemiologic, laboratory and clinical facilities. Students were introduced to research in molecular and genetic epidemiology, behavioral science, clinical cancer prevention, health disparities and other prevention-related disciplines.

The additional funding from ARRA has provided opportunities to undergraduates majoring in a variety of disciplines to tailor their careers toward cancer prevention," Cameron says.

A key component of the training program is pairing trainees with mentors -- established faculty members who are considered experts in the trainees' fields of interest. "The relationship between trainees and their mentors is an invaluable and unique part of the program," says Denae King, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research and mentor for the training program.



King served as mentor to Dee Jordan, an undergraduate selected for the Student Research Experience program. Jordan's research focus on medical geography -- the integration of hardware, software and data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying geographically referenced information -- helped her compile and analyze data for a community research project for Galena Park, Texas, residents at an increased cancer risk because of environmental toxins.



Ensuring the medical community is equipped with well-trained experts who can lead the efforts in cancer prevention and control requires continued funding and philanthropic support. The Student Research Experiences summer program is one example of how additional funding is paving the way for future prevention leaders.

Follow the link for more information about the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program or the Center for Research on Minority Health.

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