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Cancer Biology Concentration

The Wilmot Cancer Institute has introduced an optional "Concentration in Cancer Biology" program for PhD students at UR/URMC to enhance their training in cancer biology research. The program is designed to provide education in fundamental cancer biology concepts, as well as clinical and translational cancer research. The curriculum focuses on recent primary literature and interactions with clinicians to offer a comprehensive learning experience. The following courses comprise the concentration:

  • Cancer Biology Seminar (IND 507), four semesters. A weekly seminar series featuring world-class cancer research scientists from across the USA. A key component of the Seminar series is periodic paper discussion sessions led by a faculty member, with the papers chosen by the students.  Participants in the class also have the opportunity to attend career development networking luncheons with invited speakers and the opportunity for students to invite and host a seminar speaker annually.
  • Cancer Biology (PTH 507), one semester. This course provides a broad overview of a variety of topics in basic cancer biology, each taught by an expert in the field on that topic. Topics include cellular transformation, cancer epigenetics, cell division and cell death, tumor immunology, microenvironmental interactions, aging, and treatment strategies. Students also prepare an independent presentation on a cancer topic of their choice for the class.
  • Clinical and Translational Oncology (IND 517), one semester. This course provides an overview of clinical and translational cancer biology through lectures and discussions. Clinician scientists and translational research teams teach the course, which takes a tumor-site-specific look at ‘bench to bedside’ translational science. Students learn about pathology and tumor staging; chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapies; cancers commonly seen at the Wilmot Cancer Institute by primary clinicians; and geriatric oncology. There is also an opportunity for students to interview current patients with cancer. As a final assignment, each student designs and presents a novel clinical trial concept to address an unmet need in cancer therapy.

In addition to the courses above, students are invited to participate in the Annual Wilmot Cancer Institute Scientific Symposium, which features talks by basic and clinical cancer researchers from across the University. Students also have the opportunity to meet the keynote speaker and present their work to a diverse scientific audience. Additionally, there is a student-run Cancer Biology Interest Group is called the 'WILCATs'. This group provides peer-to-peer networking and offers opportunities for students to participate in community outreach and engagement activities.

Upon completion of the concentration, students will have a strong foundation in cancer research and clinical care to help them develop careers as future cancer researchers. They will also receive an official notation of completion of the Cancer Biology Concentration on their PhD diplomas.