Cancer Research Career Enhancement

The overarching goal of the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC) Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination Core (CRTECC) is to prepare a diverse group of trainees to conduct cancer research in the context of laboratory, clinical, and community settings that impacts and aligns with the needs of our catchment area.

Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD, Associate Director for Education, Training & Mentoring

Aims

To accomplish these goals, the aims of CRTECC are to:

  1. enhance cancer research education and training through programs that build scientific proficiency among individuals underrepresented in cancer research and clinical care;
  2. encourage pursuit of population to clinical cancer research careers through cancer-focused graduate and basic, clinical and population-based fellowship programs; and
  3. promote translational cancer research through targeted mentorship, skill development, and interdisciplinary team building of trainees to junior faculty.

Activities

The CRTECC coordinates UNMCCC-wide education activities and access to institutional resources. Sponsored events include an annual Research Day, ‘Hackathon-style’ HUB meetings, Research SLAMs and grant reviews. The monthly UNMCCC Director’s Lecture Series features nationally-recognized speakers as inspirational role models who meet with scientists and trainees to provide guidance and create opportunities for inter-institutional collaboration.

CRTECC events and activities promote interdisciplinary training, networking and team-building in support of cancer research and clinical care career development. Structured career development plans, annual SMART goal setting, and reviews by mentoring teams assure that trainees remain on track.

Support for Trainees

Travel and fellowship funds enable professional meeting attendance. The UNMCCC Shared Resources, including a Translational Science Resource for interventional and correlative science studies, provide hands-on guided instruction in technology application, further building scholar skills. CRTECC outcomes are measured via stakeholder surveys, tracked metrics (degrees earned, promotions and recognitions, fellowship and career development awards, presentations and publications) and guided by a logic model for continuous quality improvement.

Institutional resources support MS degrees in Clinical/Translational Science and Public Health, and PhD degrees in Cancer Biology or in Health Equity Sciences. Extramurally-funded diversity training grants and thematically-focused Centers with large training components build collaborative interdisciplinary research communities, fostering rich training environments for high school students through junior faculty.

Strategic planning for the CRTECC is guided by UNMCCC Leadership, an Advisory Committee for Education (ACE), and the UNMCCC External Advisory Committee. From 2015-2020, CRTECC supported the training of 530 students and fellows with a gender, racial and ethnic diversity of 72% and promoted the careers of 68 junior faculty (62% women/minority). In the past 5 year period, support for trainees has totaled $11.47 million with $2.7 million currently available.