The central component of UNC-GO training is the mentored research experience. Guided by a mentoring team, each trainee will develop and conduct research. UNC-GO emphasizes a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, led by a primary mentor who is usually a UNC-GO primary preceptor, although in some cases an affiliate preceptor is the lead with assistance from a primary preceptor. Upon the trainee’s admission to the program, the UNC-GO Co-Directors and SC work with the trainee to form a mentorship team. Every mentoring team will include a clinician/scientist with Geriatrics expertise.  

Throughout the program, the mentorship team (with input from the Co-Directors) helps the trainee develop a training plan, identify appropriate coursework and other training needs, identify research opportunities, assists with grant writing requirements, and facilitates placement after traineeship. The primary preceptor is expected to meet with the trainee at least twice monthly and convenes the Quarterly Review meeting between the trainee, his/her preceptors, and the Co-Directors to review the Individual Development Plan and research progress. UNC-GO trainee projects may be independently developed parts of preceptors’ ongoing research programs and/or new projects developed by trainees. The mentored research experience begins at program entry and lasts throughout the program, and includes three major required activities: research projects, professional activities, and publications.

  • Research Projects. Under the guidance of the mentoring team, trainees design and conduct one or more independent projects. Trainees address aspects of research ranging from developing the research question and design, to the protocol, methods, instruments, data collection/compilation, data management, analysis, evaluation, and reporting. Involvement of collaborating experts is expected.
    • Develop a translational study, such as:
      • Biomarkers of aging including p16
      • Body composition and outcomes
    • Conduct a clinical trial, such as:
      • Study a non-drug intervention (i.e. exercise, nutrition/diet, other behavioral)
      • Treatment trial (radiation, gynecologic Oncology, medical Oncology)
    • Access/analyze data from existing databases, such as:
      • LCCC0916 “Carolina Senior Registry” Database
      • UNC Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort (HR/CSC)
      • Carolina Breast Cancer Study
      • Collaborations with School of Public Health researchers – e.g., accessing the NIH SEER database (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results); CIPHR, investigator-linked databases to health insurance data or death registries, etc.
      • Create a new database – chart review/abstraction, develop/conduct a survey
  • Professional Activities. UNC-GO trainees will be expected to present their research findings at local, regional, and national scientific meetings. Preceptors are encouraged to offer trainees appropriate participation in review activities (e.g., joint review of manuscripts for journals).
  • Publications. UNC-GO trainees are expected to conduct independent research and have a minimum of one first-author manuscript submitted per year. It is understood that UNC-GO research may continue to be submitted following completion of the program. Prior Geriatric Oncology trainees have cumulatively produced 95 cancer-related publications, most of which are UNC-GO program-related, and most with one or more Geriatric Oncology mentors and other trainees as co-authors.