ITOS Program Fellows will participate in all of the following activities, which have been strategically designed to maximize interdisciplinary interactions.
Formal mentoring teams will be established for each ITOS Fellow, composed of a primary mentor from among the ITOS Program Faculty and at least one secondary mentor in a complementary discipline from the primary mentor. If the ITOS Fellow strives for a translational endpoint in their research, a senior HCC clinician may also be added to the mentoring team. The mentoring team will work with the ITOS Fellow to develop and monitor his/her annual individual development plan, which will map out the skills to be learned and milestones to be achieved. The primary mentor will be engaged with the ITOS Fellow on a regular basis, weekly if not more frequent, as he/she will be a member of the primary mentor’s laboratory. Other members of the mentoring team will be engaged at the individual level at least monthly.
Within the laboratory of the primary mentor, the ITOS Fellow will learn to define research objectives and specific aims, develop research methodologies, perform experiments, and evaluate experimental results. He/she will also be mentored on the mechanics of laboratory management in preparation for running his/her own independent laboratory in the future. Issues to be covered include human/animal/biosafety compliance, financial management, human resources and issues related to the responsible conduct of research. The ITOS Fellow’s progress on his/her research project(s) will be presented and discussed with the primary mentor at least weekly and with the entire mentoring team quarterly. Finally, the ITOS Fellow will be expected to write and present the original version of a manuscript dealing with his/her laboratory-based work for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and present his/her findings at a national meeting prior to the completion of the program. It will also be expected that an extramural grant submission, such as a F32, K99 or other K series, will be developed and submitted during his/her participation in the program.
The ITOS Program Research Club provides an engaging community forum for ITOS Fellows and Program Faculty to discuss work in progress as well as the latest discoveries in cancer science. These monthly meetings provide an integrated atmosphere for generating cohesive, coordinated efforts for the development and application of new knowledge about cancer.
In order to provide a breadth of applied experience and training utilizing cutting-edge technology, ITOS Fellows will be provided the opportunity to receive free training, either one-on-one or through structured workshops.
All NIH-funded trainees at MUSC receive mandatory training in ethics and responsible conduct of research (RCR) commensurate with their level of training. Formal RCR instruction for postdoctoral trainees is organized through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs within the MUSC College of Graduate Studies and occurs in a retreat format. Each retreat spans two full days (17 contact hours) with topical sessions lasting 45-90 minutes and consisting of a short lecture followed by small group discussion of case studies with faculty facilitators. Topics for RCR training include historical development of requirements for research ethics; data on incidence, types and perpetrators of misconduct in research; methods for developing a thoughtful response to moral problems in scientific research; ethical decision-making; data management and selection; conducting and reporting research; peer review; mentoring; conflict of interest; proprietary information; misconduct in research and reporting misconduct; and human and animal subjects. In addition, participants receive training in preparing an individual development plan, establishing a training timeline and implementing job search strategies, including worksheet templates for career planning and annual progress discussions with their mentors.
The HCC provides multiple structured opportunities for ITOS Fellows to engage across scientific disciplines. Fellows will be expected to be actively involved in cancer research seminars, research program meetings and research retreats.
MUSC is an institutional member of the National Postdoctoral Association, a non-profit group serving the interests and career development of postdoctoral researchers. MUSC also supports an active local Postdoctoral Association under the administration of the College of Graduate Studies. The following opportunities will also be available to ITOS Fellows:
ITOS Fellows are supported by the ITOS Program to attend and present their research results at a national meeting focused on cancer research.
In general, ITOS Fellows will not be expected to take additional course work, but depending on their research/education backgrounds, their interests, and deficits, they may be encouraged to audit appropriate classes. The College of Graduate Studies has a rich portfolio of biomedical science graduate courses, but of note, several of the ITOS Program Faculty, along with other faculty within the HCC, have developed five new cancer-specific courses during the past two years targeted for graduate students.