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Congratulations Dr. Jen Jen Yeh for receiving a multi-PI NIH T32 award with Dr. William Kim (Lineberger) from the National Cancer Institute for the project entitled, “UNC Integrated Translational Oncology Program (UNC-iTOP)”, in the amount of $2,578,421 from 9/20/2019 – 8/31/2024.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Integrated Translational Oncology Program (UNC-iTOP) is a T32 training program focused on training clinicians (MDs), basic scientists (PhDs), and PhD, MD and MD-PhD candidates in clinical/translational disease-based research at the interface of clinical oncology and cancer biology using patient samples. They have recruited preceptors/faculty with broad interests who are committed to improving translational oncology and tissue-based research. Led by two physician-scientists with complementary expertise in tissue-based research, clinically applicable preclinical models, and clinical trials, UNC-iTOP has recruited preceptors/faculty who are leaders in their fields. The UNC-iTOP faculty includes members with expertise in translational research focusing on biomarkers of cancer and novel therapies and interventions for patients. All UNC-iTOP faculty have approved IRB protocols and have led prospective clinical protocols and/or trials.

Support for UNC-iTOP will enable a proactive, energetic and sustained effort to identify, recruit and train promising MD, PhD, and MD-PhD investigators for research careers that will address the knowledge gap in tissue-based translational oncology research. Translational oncology tissue-based research has been critically important for the identification of key drivers of cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. Identifying treatments that target the vulnerabilities at each stage continues to be a broad area of need. Evaluating new therapies in relevant models with more stringent metrics is key to translating findings to the clinic. Validating findings in patients is the overarching goal. To succeed in each area requires a fundamental understanding of the workings of the healthcare and clinical protocol/regulatory system that supports cutting edge research. UNC-iTOP will provide a comprehensive training program for MD and PhD trainees committed to translational oncology and tissue-based research. We recognize that translational oncology research involves numerous disciplines and successful advances are the result of interdisciplinary teams. The UNC-iTOP focuses on integrating the “basic”, “clinical”, and “regulatory” teams early on with the overarching goal to develop a cadre of translational scientists (both MDs and PhDs) who will be the next generation of leaders in the field of oncology research.