Education and Training
A significant part of the UMass Cancer Center mission is to train and inspire the next generation of researchers, clinicians and caregivers in the team science required to develop new and better treatments for cancers that have already appeared, to find new ways to find the disease early or prevent it from occurring at all, and to discover better ways to manage and ease the human suffering of our patients and their families. We do this through our multidisciplinary disease specific conferences and groups, through the leadership of Cancer Center Faculty in Medical School and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences courses, by clinic and in-patient teaching rounds, and through specific graduate, postgraduate, doctoral and fellowship programs in Cancer – related Departments and Divisions of the Cancer Center which are described below. We also welcome interns and volunteers into various aspects of Cancer Center operations and research.
First and second year Medical students take a core course in Cancer Concepts which includes topics in Cancer epidemiology and etiology, Cancer prevention and screening, Basic science of cancer biology, Clinical Cancer diagnosis and management, and societal impact. Common malignancies are also covered in the specific organ blocks which follow this course. Core rotations in the third year of Medical School also include specific time on oncologic services within the disciplines of Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics and Gynecology. Fourth year students interested in Oncology as a career often elect to do sub internships on the Medical or Surgical Oncology or Gynecologic Oncology services, and electives in mentored clinical research projects. Some of these electives and sub internships are also offered to students from other LCGME accredited medical schools. Back to Top
UMass Medical School offers 53 ACGME approved residencies from Anesthesiology to Vascular Surgery. Residents in Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Pathology, Plastic Surgery, Radiology and General Surgery have specific exposure to multidisciplinary Cancer Center activities through site specific tumor conferences or assigned rotations on Oncology services such as Surgical Oncology Gynecologic Oncology and Medical Oncology, or both. This multidisciplinary scientific exposure has provided the impetus, resources and mentors for many resident research projects and publications either during clinical rotations or during time allotted for research in their respective residency programs. Some residents elect to pursue cancer research in greater depth by taking time out of their residencies to pursue laboratory based, translational or outcomes research with Cancer Center faculty. Some have gone on from this point for other advanced degrees at UMass such as MPH. Back to Top
The Translational Cancer Biology program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) attracts talented and motivated trainees who take advantage of the superb training environment to foster their careers in cancer research. The program, which has strong institutional support, is based in the Department of Cancer Biology but it includes faculty from most basic science and clinical departments. Indeed, a major strength of the program is that is integrates the cancer-related activities at UMMS into a unified program that is highly visible and effective as a training mechanism. Thirty faculty members participating in this program are selected based on their scientific achievements and track record of funding in cancer research, performance during the current funding period, and their passion and experience in mentoring trainees. Basic mechanisms of cancer genetics and cell biology, and translational cancer research are the major research interests of the program faculty. A goal of this program is to provide trainees with an understanding and appreciation for cancer as a disease by exposing them to clinical cancer research and medicine. This goal is accomplished by the courses and activities offered, and through interactions with the UMASS Cancer Center of Excellence and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Trainees interact with clinicians by participating in disease-based clinical conferences of the Cancer Center and by collaborating with specific clinicians to facilitate their research and strengthen its clinical relevance and impact. This approach has been very effective and successful. Our pre-doctoral trainees have published in top-tier journals and obtained postdoctoral and faculty positions in cancer research at leading institutions, and postdoctoral trainees have secured jobs in academia and bio-tech.
The training program is also a key component of cancer-based educational activities of UMMS. Specifically, the Cancer Biology PhD Program of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is an integral and successful component of our training program. This program provides students with outstanding training in cancer biology, as well as an appreciation and understanding of cancer as a disease and the importance of translational research. This program brings together faculty and students from most of the basic science and clinical departments at the medical school. The Postdoctoral Program in Cancer Biology is a unified mechanism to advance the training and career progression of our post-docs. Back to Top
The Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS) houses two training programs that lead to degrees in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: the doctorate (PhD) in Clinical and Population Health Research (CPHR), and the Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI). The MSCI is designed for clinicians with a doctoral degrees (e.g. MD), who are junior faculty or clinical fellows or residents, and who wish to acquire the skills necessary to add a component of clinical, translational, or health services research to their clinical careers. In addition, QHS houses different series of lectures and informal “research in progress” sessions open to the entire campus. QHS also houses the Quantitative Methods Core, which supports study design and analysis, statistical computing, and data management. Back to Top
The Center for Mindfulness has been awarded a grant from the Donaldson Family Foundation to develop an educational program for Cancer Center clinicians as a more effective way to bring mindfulness techniques to ever larger groups of cancer patients. This program is open to as many as 25 clinicians to start with and aims to introduce these techniques as part of the routine of care for patients afflicted with Cancer. Back to Top
UMass Division of Surgical Oncology offers a one-year SSO approved Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship to applicants who have completed their training in General Surgery. This fellowship encompasses training in areas of research, clinical acumen and scholarly aptitude. The ability to understand advances in basic breast cancer biology (basic research), application of observations in the field (translational research), complex nature of clinical trial design and analysis, the rapid advance of technologies and the incumbent psycho-social milieu, emphasizes the complex nature of training a breast specialist. Fellows are trained in a multimodality fashion, developing knowledge of benign and malignant breast diseases. This training involves epidemiology, genetics screening/detection, imaging, behavioral, medical, surgical, pathological, radiation oncology, clinical trial design, statistics and analysis. Training is directed to prepare highly motivated, talented, and compassionate physicians who can pass on the legacy of the fight against breast cancer and lead multidisciplinary breast programs. Back to Top
UMass Division of Hematology/Oncology offers a three – year ACGME approved fellowship for dual certification in Medical Oncology and Hematology to applicants who have completed their medical residency training at an LCGME accredited program. Three fellows are accepted into this program each year for a total of six Fellows in the program at any one time. 18 months are committed to clinical training, including at least two months in stem cell transplantation. All fellows must participate in clinical- or laboratory-based research, and all are expected to publish (peer-reviewed publication, or an abstract at a national meeting or a book chapter). All trainees in the past five years have more than satisfied this requirement and 70% of graduates in past 7 years are currently in academic positions. All fellows have passed either Oncology or Hematology boards, and 8 of 13 are dual certified (some have chosen to sit for only one board exam). Back to Top
The UMMS Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine offers a multidisciplinary training program infrastructure for postdoctoral fellows that will prepare independent investigators to pursue careers focused on implementation science in cancer prevention. Specifically, the program targets postdoctoral (e.g. Ph.D., M.D., Sc.D.) trainees who have a vested interest in becoming independently funded investigators. The training program melds a comprehensive didactic component that includes methods and approaches specific to implementation science with experiential learning achieved via mentored research experiences conducted in collaboration with a diverse range of clinical and community partners. Back to Top