UNC-GO fellows will choose between two research tracks that represent the best research areas that UNC has to offer: clinical/translational and health services research. Coursework will be matched to each UNC-GO trainee’s specific focus and research track. The UNC-GO Program will provide funding for in-state tuition.

Clinical/Translational Research

Fellows will have opportunities to participate in on-going studies and initiate their own projects in clinical/ translational research. Within the time constraints of this one or two year training program, opportunities in translational research include studies of novel biomarkers of aging including p16INK4a gene expression (biomarker of aging) and how biomarkers may be independently predictive of treatment outcomes, including toxicity, response and survival. Studies of other novel biomarkers such the prognostic and predictive value of body composition metrics will also be encouraged. The Geriatric Oncology program has already developed a highly functioning biospecimen processing and storage facility for translational projects. Clinical studies in older patients may include specific trials evaluating Surgical, Radiation, Urologic, Gynecologic or Medical Oncology interventions (chemotherapy or biologic therapy). All clinical trials will integrate geriatric assessment as part of patient evaluation both prior to, and depending on trial design, during and after completion of treatment. Extensive expertise in translational and clinical studies already exists at UNC. Trainees will have access to UNC-LCCC core resources to help develop and manage these trials, including the Clinical Protocol Office and the Office of Clinical Trials Research. Resources for statistical support and developing databases and managing data entry are also available. In addition, NC TRaCS can provide trainees a variety of research support services, including access to inpatient and outpatient examination rooms, a staff of highly-skilled research professionals, and specimen processing and short-term storage facilities. NC TRaCS also provides assistance with biomedical informatics (including access to the Carolina Data Warehouse for Health, Epic@UNC research informatics), biostatistics, comparative effectiveness research, proposal development, and study recruitment.

Examples of  Clinical/Translational Research Projects

Project Type Preceptor/Affiliate Preceptor Geriatrics Mentor
Clinical trials: Chemotherapy, biologics,  endocrine therapy (phase II trials in older patients, surgery or radiation) Primary: Carey, Muss (Breast); Pecot (Lung); Bae-Jump  (Gyn); Chen, Kim (GU); Yeh (GI)

Affiliate: Reeder-Hayes (Breast); Tuchman (Myeloma); Beaven (Lymphoma); Sanoff (GI); Weiss (Lung); Wood (Transplant); Smith (Bladder)

Busby-Whitehead

Muss

Hanson

Drickamer

Jolly

Roberts

Platts-Mills

Clinical Trials: Non-drug Interventions

 

Primary: Muss, Basch (PRO-based interventions)

Affiliate: Hanson (palliative care); Platts-Mills (pain); Nyrop (exercise, nutrition, symptom management); Lund (polypharmacy); Jolly (overcoming Geriatric Assessment deficits); Nielson (prostate cancer decision making)

Translational

 

Primary: Muss (biomarkers of aging, focus on p16, body composition); Pecot (RNA and lung metastases)

Affiliate: Sanoff (toxicity markers); Weiss (body composition); Wood (biomarkers of aging – BMT)

Focus on older patients and can be done in any subspecialty in most disease sites dependent on patient availability.

Health Services Research

Cancer-related health services research at UNC and UNC-LCCC has seen major growth in the past eight years with recruitment, infrastructure, database, and methodology improvements as well as partnerships between UNC-LCCC, various UNC School of Medicine departments, the UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research (UNC Sheps), and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health (UN Gillings). A substantial investment has been made in CIPHR, a data resource that includes state cancer registry (50,000 yearly, ~250,000 to date)  data linked to medical claims data for approximately 80% of cancer cases in the state, as well as multiple linkages to other contextual resources including census data and provider files. CIPHR also has capability to securely store and analyze other Big Data assets that investigators may wish to use in their research within a secure computing environment.  UNC Gillings provides a full range of course work and Master’s degree programs that are fully available to UNC-GO trainees. UNC Sheps provides a well-regarded interdisciplinary program of research, consultation, technical assistance, and training focused on timely and policy-relevant questions concerning the adequacy, cost, and effectiveness of health care services. Notably, Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, was recruited from Memorial Sloan-Kettering and was named co-Leader of the UNC-LCCC Cancer Prevention and Control Program in 2013 and head of the Cancer Outcomes Program.  Dr. Basch is a national leader with substantial NCI funding; he is a member of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) methodology committee and a UNC-GO primary preceptor. UNC-GO trainees can select from a wide variety of courses in cancer epidemiology, health policy, health behavior, nutrition, and other subjects offered within top-ranked UNC GiIllings programs, to inform their particular research plans.

Examples of Health Services Research Projects

Project Type Preceptor/Affiliate Preceptor Geriatric Mentor
Data base analysis Primary: Basch (patient reported outcomes); Chen (GU cancer – SEER Medicare, Carolina Cancer Registry

Affiliate: Reeder-Hayes (quality measures, costs of care); Hanson (palliative care database); Tuchman (GA in Myeloma); Wood (GA and functional outcomes BMT); Jolly (GA measures and outcomes – Carolina Senior database); Nyrop (patient reported outcomes and symptoms, exercise and nutrition); Lund, Sanoff (SEER database and data base linkages to explore outcomes); Nielson (Prostate cancer outcomes)

Busby-Whitehead

Muss

Hanson

Drickamer

Jolly

Roberts

Platts-Mills

Survivorship

 

Primary: Basch (outcomes related to PROs); Chen (long-term outcomes prostate cancer pts)

Affiliate: Mayer (long term toxicity, role of care plans); Smith (issues in bladder cancer survivors)