NCI Training Program in Translational Genomics and Precision Medicine Approaches in Cancer
The T32 in Translational Genomics and Precision Medicine in Cancer (TGP) training program was developed in response to a new revolution of Big Data and the need for scientists to be trained in the discovery, integration and interpretation of translational genomics for precision medicine. The training plan allows qualified predoctoral or postdoctoral candidates to be educated and trained in-depth and breadth in state-of-the-art areas of translational genomics and precision medicine related to cancer.
The goal is to educate and train the next generation of scientists to understand broadly their role in driving precision medicine through discovery science and development of novel genomic analytical tools necessary to power this application in the clinical setting. In addition to a mentored research experience by one of our outstanding training faculty, both Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral fellows are expected to gain interdisciplinary training in core competency areas critical to the future of translational genomic science.
Postdoctoral positions in the Translational Genomics and Precision Medicine in Cancer (TGP) Training Program at MD Anderson are available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. Predoctoral positions are also available, no U.S. citizenship required.
Candidates for positions on the T32 must be currently working with or propose to work with T32 faculty mentors and interested in training related to competency areas of the TGP program. We highly encourage selection of clinical co-mentors for T32 fellows accepted into the program to ensure a translational research experience.
Predoctoral fellows who have completed their first year of graduate training and have passed oral candidacy are preferred however the T32 Program will also consider strong applicants in their first year of graduate training, no U.S. citizenship required.
Interested candidates should email their applications as a single pdf file with “2019 T32 TGP Application” denoted in the subject line. The application should include:
- Application form
- Applicant Statement of Interest in T32 Training (1 page) describing research interests and how T32 training might benefit future career goals.
- 5-page research proposal on proposed research project with T32 faculty mentor. Research proposal should include: Abstract; Background and Significance; Preliminary Data; Research Plan
- Applicant Curriculum Vitae
- Three letters of recommendation
- Mentor’s training plan (predoctoral candidates only)( 1 page)
- Personal data sheet (optional)
Encouraging Diversity: Because the training programs are also committed to enhancing the diversity of scientists, individuals from diverse backgrounds (including individuals from racial and ethnic groups that are shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds) are particularly encouraged to apply.
Applications must be complete and finalized by the March 1, 2019 deadline. Corrections submitted after the deadline will not be permitted.
Send the application email to:
Program Coordinator, Education
• Applicant Statement of Interest in T32 Training (1 page) describing research interests and how T32 training might benefit future career goals.
• 5 page research proposal on proposed research project with T32 faculty mentor. Research proposal should include: Abstract; Background and Significance; Preliminary Data; Research Plan
• Applicant Curriculum Vitae
• Three letters of recommendation
• Mentor’s training plan (predoctoral candidates only)( 1 page)
• Optional personal data sheet
Both graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will have a defined curriculum as well as may take electives offered within the GSBS and also through the TGP T32 program. We will train our students and postdoctoral fellows on an individual basis, taking into consideration their specific areas of interest within our core competency required areas.
Core Competencies for the program include a depth and breadth of knowledge in 5 areas:
- Translational cancer research, to gain exposure to mechanistic studies in translational research and their importance to the human organism;
- Precision medicine to gain experience in state-of-the-art ways to diagnose and target treatment of cancer patients based on genomic or immunogenetic profiles;
- Translational genetics and genomics, to gain competency in translational genomics needed for future understanding and implementation of cancer precision medicine;
- Bioinformatics, to learn how to read and interpret large omics datasets; and,
- Exposure to relevant tumor boards (monthly) and to industrial collaborations with academic faculty mentors on large scale genomic applications in cancer precision medicine.
Meet Our Fellows
Vincent Bernard, Ph.D.
Main focus: Pancreatic cancer, liquid biopsies, single cell genomics
Vincent Bernard completed his Ph.D. at MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Science (GSBS) through the Cancer Biology Program in the laboratory of Dr. Anirban Maitra. He is part of a M.D./Ph.D. program in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine which is supported through a U54 Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research. His thesis focused on profiling the genetic evolution and prognostic determinants of pancreatic cancer through longitudinal liquid biopsies. This work demonstrated how liquid biopsies in the form of DNA found within extracellular vesicles and circulating tumor DNA in plasma can be used for real time monitoring of therapeutic response in pancreatic cancer. Vincent’s current interests are focused on pancreatic cancer genomics in the context of precision medicine through the use of molecular barcoded sequencing in liquid biopsies as well as single cell RNA and DNA sequencing of primary tumor tissues.
Vincent has co-authored 14 publications before beginning his post-doctoral training. During his time as a graduate student, he was awarded the Presidential Scholarship, Sylvan Rodriguez Foundation Scholarship honoring George M. Stancel, American Legion Auxiliary Fellowship, Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar Training Grant, and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award. His long-term career goals involve becoming a physician scientist in the field of Radiation Oncology.
Rachel Dittmar, B.S.
Main focus: pancreatic cancer, extracellular vesicles, biomarkers
Rachel L. Dittmar, B.S. is a doctoral candidate and T32
pre-doctoral awardee at the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Science (GSBS) completing her doctoral
thesis research in Dr. Subrata Sen’s lab in the department of
Translational Molecular Pathology. Mrs. Dittmar’s research focuses
on understanding how alterations in pancreatic cancer associated
driver genes, including KRAS, GNAS, and TP53, affect extracellular
vesicle content. The long term goal of this project is to use
content ensconced in circulating extracellular vesicles to develop a
body-fluid-based biomarker for early detection of pancreatic cancer
and to discriminate which cystic pancreatic cancer precursor lesions
will progress to pancreatic cancer. Mrs. Dittmar, in collaboration
with other members of the Sen lab, also plays a lead role in
projects studying cell-free, circulating miRNAs, metabolites, and
DNA as potential biomarkers for early detection of pancreatic
Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012, Mrs. Dittmar has co-authored 13 peer reviewed publications, reviews, and book chapters. Additionally, since joining the GSBS in fall of 2015, Mrs. Dittmar has been awarded the Sylvan Rodriguez Foundation Scholarship honoring George M. Stancel, the Marilyn and Frederick R. Lummis, Jr., M.D., Fellowship in the Biomedical Sciences, the Dr. John J. Kopchick Fellowship, and the Linda M. Wells GSBS Outreach Award. Outside of the lab, Mrs. Dittmar enjoys giving back to her community as Vice President of the Outreach Program.
Antoneicka Harris, Ph.D.
Main focus: cholangiocarcinoma, FGFR signaling, immuno-oncology
Antoneicka Harris completed her Ph.D. in 2018 from Mayo Clinic graduate school, Jacksonville, FL, in Biomedical Sciences within the Clinical and Translational Sciences department.
During her graduate studies, Dr. Harris worked to investigate and identify novel therapeutic combinations for BRAF mutant metastatic melanoma utilizing patient-derived preclinical models. The goal of these studies were to identify effective therapeutic combinations that were superior to standard of care treatment to help improve and prolong patient response to therapy and survival.
During her academic training, Dr. Harris has first authored reviews and peer reviewed publications. She has additionally been awarded the Mayo Clinic-Karolinska Institutet partnership travel award, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award, and the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Leadership Program Fellowship, while additionally serving as a member of the American Association for Advancement in Science, American Association for Cancer Research Women in Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research Minorities in Cancer Research, and Sigma Xi associations.
Since starting her career as an academic cancer research scientist,
it has been her goal to conduct studies that may eventually have a
direct impact on patient care. Dr. Harris is continuing to pursue this
goal by developing clinically relevant preclinical models of
intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) and investigating the roles of
novel therapeutic combinations in a specific molecular subset of the
disease. The long-term goal of this project is to develop models that
can be used to target constitutively active proteins that
predominantly occur in iCCA patients and development novel therapeutic
combinations (e.g. targeted therapies and immunotherapies) that can be
used to initiate innovative clinical trials and eventually new
therapeutic options for these patients.
Ann M. Killary, Ph.D.
Ignacio Wistuba, M.D.
Program Coordinator, Education
Translational Molecular Pathology Department
2130 W. Holcombe Blvd
Life Science Plaza
Houston, TX 77030