In addition to the Department of Epidemiology's requirement for MS and PhD degrees, the trainees will be required to achieve a sound understanding of epidemiologic methodology and statistical techniques as well as a broad understanding of biological principles and disease processes. They are also required to rotate in the genetic/molecular epidemiology laboratory to become familiar with basic laboratory skills and techniques for these studies. In addition, they are exposed to behavioral epidemiology in cancer prevention and control, as well as issues of cancer disparities. The proposed curriculum, therefore, is multidisciplinary and is designed to provide opportunities, both in didactic classes and on research projects, to develop competency in both the epidemiology and molecular biology of cancer.
Typical curriculum for a predoctoral trainee in the T32 Cancer Molecular Epidemiology Program is shown on the table 1. The required courses for the program are marked with an asterisk (*), which include degree-required courses. Trainees will have the opportunity to revise the curriculum as appropriate, considering their academic background and their particular career objectives. The curriculum for postdoctoral trainees in the Master’s Program will be similar to the first two years of the predoctoral Ph.D. program, except that a master's report or thesis will be required.
Cancer-Related Seminars, Lectures, and Symposia at UCLA.
In addition to didactic courses, the training process also takes place in four major formats within the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. There are 32 pre-scheduled tumor board conferences, grand rounds, visiting seminars and lectures, and research conferences and seminars presented by UCLA cancer specialists on a variety of cancer topics each week. A list of these activities is attached: (1) regular Tumor Board Conferences cover all major sub-specialties in cancer research and provide ongoing education and training for our trainees and medical students; (2) weekly Grand Rounds provide formal education on cancer-related issues; (3) eminent figures in the fields of cancer research visit regularly to give seminars and lectures, providing a broad overview of cancer research throughout the country and providing new stimulus for discussion of issues in cancer research; (4) research conferences and seminars by UCLA faculty give further forums for training, collaboration, and the discussion of complex issues in cancer research. These seminars, guest lectures, and symposia are open to our trainees and supply tremendous resources in addition to normal course work (Appendix 2).
Furthermore, the Center for Cancer Prevention and Control Research at UCLA (Director: Dr. Ganz) has sponsored traditional Brown Bag Seminars and Workshops; the Cancer Center Molecular Epidemiology and Carcinogenesis program has a seminar series on Molecular Epidemiology and Gene-Environment Interaction; and the Molecular Toxicology Program also has a seminar series. The topics of the seminars have covered molecular and nutritional epidemiology of cancer, as well as cancer prevention and control issues, which will be an additional resource for trainees in the program. Frequently, the UCLA faculty members organize cancer-related symposia. For example, the Symposium on Molecular Epidemiology and Chemoprevention invites distinguished experts worldwide in cancer chemoprevention to discuss future directions for cancer research. Additionally the Molecular Epidemiology Program and the Center for Environment Genome organized one week mini course on Molecular Epidemiology and Chemoprevention in 2014 and we have over 20 students participated the course.
Laboratory Training and Research.
Trainees interested in cancer genetic molecular epidemiology can learn basic laboratory techniques. In the first summer, trainees start to learn basic laboratory skills and techniques. The required knowledge and skills include blood separation, DNA extraction from blood samples, buccal cells, or tissue samples, and genotyping and sequencing techniques. These techniques and skills allow them to participate in genetic/molecular studies to perform certain genetic molecular tests in the second summer and identify a doctoral research topic. Trainees will be able to access various labs, including: the Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory in School of Public Health (Dr. Zhang), specialized in assaying tissue based mutations and germline polymorphisms; the Molecular/Genetic Core Laboratory at the UCLA Medical Center for Human Nutrition specialized in nutritional assays; and the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at the UCLA Cancer Center.