Multi-disciplinary Training grant in Cancer Research (MTCR) renewed by NCI for another 5 years
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has renewed funding for the T32 training grant “Multi-disciplinary Training grant in Cancer Research (MTCR)” at the University of Chicago for another 5 years to support select graduate students at the University of Chicago working in cancer research focused projects across the BSD, PSD and PME. The core mission of the MTCR is to train the most talented pre-doctoral students to dissect and design new ways of attacking cancer as a disease, whether that be through achieving a better understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of cancer initiation and progression, developing novel tools to monitor and modulate cancer cell responses to therapeutic intervention, or to exploit increased information about human cancer datasets and new computational methods to identify the most vulnerable cancer pathways. MTCR leadership under Dr. Kay Macleod carried out a strategic review in 2014 resulting in a re-alignment of programmatic goals to modernize training provided to pre-doctoral cancer research students at UChicago. This revised format included a new training course in translational approaches to cancer research, a move away from didactic teaching to experiential learning and importantly broadening the scope of the training grant beyond the Committee on Cancer Biology to cover all cancer-relevant research at the University of Chicago. This new format T32 was reviewed as “Outstanding” at study section and refunded in full for another 5 years. Other points commended by reviewers were the “shortened time to graduation,” “productivity of trainees in research publications,” “a remarkable number of trainees holding either faculty positions in academia, or leadership positions in industry,” “outstanding training environment at UC,” “outstanding pool of trainees,” “outstanding trainee outcomes,” “innovative curriculum,” and “outstanding leadership.”
This academic year 2020-2021, the grant supported a total of 8 students from the Department of Chemistry, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Committee on Molecular Metabolism & Nutrition, in addition to the Committee on Cancer Biology researching aspects of cancer biology ranging from the mechanisms of cancer cachexia, photo-proximity profiling of cell-cell interactions in the tumor microenvironment, profiling and mathematical modeling of tumor infiltrating NK cells, use of organoids to test the efficacy of selective estrogen receptor modulators, exploiting the KEAP1-NRF2 pathway in cancer therapy amongst other cutting edge projects. A new competition for academic year 2021-2022 will be launched in May 2021 and faculty and trainees across BSD, PSD and PME with cancer-focused research projects are encouraged to plan ahead if they are interested in obtaining support (tuition and trainee stipend) from the MTCR.