TRIUMPH at a Glance
The MD Anderson Cancer Center CPRIT Research Training Program provides fundamental, interdisciplinary, and innovative training in cancer research at MD Anderson. This program is the continuation of a highly successful and comprehensive training program supported by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. The program includes three tracks: the CPRIT TRIUMPH (Translational Research in Multidisciplinary Program) post-doctoral, CPRIT Graduate Scholar, and CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Research Programs.
TRIUMPH (Translational Research in Multi-Disciplinary Program) Postdoctoral Fellowship provides training in clinical and translational research. The immediate goal of this program is to recruit talented and productive Ph.D. students from top graduate programs to provide continued training in clinical and/or translational cancer research through didactic course work, clinical rotations, and unique, interdisciplinary mentorships. A long-term goal of this program is to produce translational scientists who can be teamed with suitable physician scientists to PI a translational research laboratory.
This is a three-year training program. First year postdoctoral fellows participate in a series of didactic clinical course work offered at the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School (GSBS), MD Anderson Cancer Center, or the UTHealth McGovern School of Medicine and strategically matched clinical rotations, while pursuing research in a basic or translational research laboratory. Second and third year fellows are co-mentored by a basic science/translational scientist mentor and a physician/clinical scientist mentor on clinical/translational research projects. The TRIUMPH postdoc will earn a certificate upon successful completion of the program.
Taking research from bench to bedside
Quarterly Informational Webinar: Nov. 3
Please join us for an informational webinar on the TRIUMPH postdoctoral training program on Friday, November 3, 2023 at 11 a.m. CST. Register here
Why Choose TRIUMPH at MD Anderson?
What makes the TRIUMPH program unique is that fellows are not accepted into the program with a pre-determined mentor. We believe that the mentor matching process is important to the success of the trainee and it is not something that can be established during the candidate's interview alone. As such, once accepted into the program, the fellow will devote the first 4-6 weeks in the program to mentor selection. Each fellow will select between 3-5 of our faculty mentors to meet and interview with. During this time, the fellow will write up a short research proposal for each potential mentor, they will meet with the faculty mentor to discuss the research project and they will attend lab meetings to better familiarize themselves with the lab and its staff. Once this process is complete and the fellow has selected his/her mentor, they will transition over to their mentor’s lab. From there, the fellow will meet with the Program Director and his/her mentor to develop an individualized development plan which will help identify any deficiencies in one’s training and lay the framework for filling in such voids. After the fellow’s research project has been identified, his/she will work with their mentor to identify faculty to serve on their committee. Trainees will meet with their committee once every six months to present their research and keep them appraised on their progress.
CPRIT TRIUMPH postdoctoral fellows will complete 12-15 credit hours of didactic coursework at the University of Texas Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences that is specifically tailored to the needs and growth of each fellow. Coursework may include (but is not limited to) the following:
GS04 1235 Basic and Translational Cancer Biology (5 units)
Hu, Jian, Ph.D. and Ying, Haoqiang, Ph.D. Five semester hours. Offered Spring, annually.
GS21 1132 Human Protocol Research (2 units)
Janku, Filip, M.D., Ph.D. Two semester hours. Offered Fall, annually. Prerequisite: None.
GS12 1164 Human Pathobiology (4 units)
Buja, L. Maximilian, M.D., Bast, Robert, M.D. and Kopetz, Scott, M.D., Ph.D. Four semester hours. Offered Spring, annually. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
GS21 1232 Translational Science: Bedside to Bench and Back (2 Units)
Kopetz, Scott, M.D, Ph.D. Two semester hours. Offered Fall, annually. Prerequisite: None.
GS21 1613 Translational Cancer Research (3 Units)
Bast, Robert, M.D. Two semester hours. Offered Spring, annually. Prerequisite: Cancer Biology preferred.
GS21 1014 Design and Management of Clinical Trials (4 Units)
Litton, Jennifer, M.D. Four semester hours. Spring and Fall, annually.
Seminar Requirement: All Fellows must attend the monthly CPRIT journal club. Each trainee is expected to present their research once a year.
Once all coursework has been completed, TRIUMPH Fellows will take part in 3-5 clinical rotations in various clinical oncology areas during their TRIUMPH training. Clinical rotations are individualized to the needs of each fellow and their research projects and may include:
Surgical Oncology Rotation
Director: Donald Baumann, M.D.
This rotation will provide thefellow exposure to the role of Surgery in the multidisciplinary care of the cancer patient. This experience will include a combination of rotations on the breast, gastrointestinal, colorectal, sarcoma, melanoma, urology, gynecologic, thoracic, head and neck, neurosurgery, orthopedic, and plastic and reconstructive surgery services. The fellow will meet with Dr. Baumann before the rotation begins to discuss which subspecialty rotations will be most beneficial to the fellow.The goals of the rotation are to: (1) introduce the fellow to the role of oncologic surgery and reconstructive surgery in the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients, (2) provide exposure to the comprehensive evaluation of patients prior to receiving their surgical treatment, (3) allow observation of patients in outpatient clinics before, during, and after surgical therapy; longitudinal evaluation of patients will allow for an understanding of the impact of surgical treatment and natural history of specific malignancies, (4) allow the fellow to observe a wide variety of surgical procedures in the operating room, and follow tumor specimens from surgery to pathology to gain exposure to intraoperative specimen evaluation and (5) introduce the fellow to ongoing clinical and translational research protocols and the processes involved for patients enrolled on clinical trials. Each fellow will attend 2 days in clinic and/or operating room weekly; the monthly Division of Surgery Grand Rounds; and the weekly multidisciplinary conference appropriate to the assigned surgical rotation. The fellow will meet periodically with Dr. Baumann to ensure that optimal teaching and benefit is being derived.
Radiation Oncology Rotation
Director, Wendy Woodward, M.D., Ph.D.
This rotation will be divided to allow experiences with two disease-site services over an 8-week period. Disease-sites will be selected according to the candidate’s areas of research interest and areas in which the best educational opportunities exist.The goals of the rotation are to provide the CPRIT TRIUMPH fellow with (1) a preliminary understanding of the role radiation therapy plays in the multidisciplinary management of cancer, (2) an overview of how radiation treatment planning is performed and how radiation treatments are delivered, (3) an overview of how radiation achieves its therapeutic effects from a biological perspective, (4) a preliminary experience with the clinical practice in radiation oncology. During the 8-week rotation the fellow will attend radiation oncology planning clinic (held three mornings a week); attend radiation oncology grand rounds (once weekly); attend the Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology Seminar series (once monthly); spend one day in radiation treatment planning and delivery (work in dosimetry and on a treatment machine); rotate under the direct mentorship of a clinical faculty member on two disease sites and attend multidisciplinary clinical case conferences and other educational forums during their rotations on the disease sites.
Investigational Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) Rotation
Director, David Hong, M.D.
The main purpose of the ICT rotation is to provide the fellow with an introduction to early cancer drug development. The CPRIT TRIUMPH fellow will be paired with one of the current ICT fellows and directly mentored by a clinical faculty member.The goals of the rotation are to provide the fellow with: (1) a preliminary understanding of the process of early drug development from both regulatory and scientific perspectives, (2) an overview of the nature and design of phase I cancer trials, (3) an overview of the emerging targeted therapies and biologic targets in cancer therapy, and (4) a preliminary experience in the ICT clinic and the management of phase I cancer patients. During the 8-week rotation the CPRIT TRIUMPH fellow will attend the weekly protocol planning meeting (Mondays), ICT planning rounds and seminars (Wednesdays) and ICT journal club and preclinical club (Wednesdays). They will also present both at the journal club and preclinical club; rotate under the direct mentorship of a clinical faculty member (clinic twice a week); attend weekly team meetings of his/her clinical faculty member; attend protocol site activation meetings and drug pipeline meetings.
Director, Aysegul Sahin, M.D.
The CPRIT TRIUMPH fellow will learn about the general operation of the histology, immunohistochemistry, gross pathology and frozen section laboratories and will rotate on the frozen section and cytopathology services and multiple subspecialty services within surgical pathology. The latter will include a combination of rotations on the breast, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecologic, thoracic, head and neck, skin, soft tissue and bone, hematopathology, and neuropathology subspecialty services.The goals of the rotation are to (1) introduce the fellow to the role of diagnostic surgical pathology and cytopathology in the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients, (2) demonstrate how cytology fluids, aspirates, tissue biopsy and surgical resection specimens are received and processed in the laboratory, (3) demonstrate how tissue specimens are evaluated and sampled for immediate intraoperative and subsequent histologic evaluation, and provide exposure to processes for handling and using leftover tissue for research, (4) allow the fellow to observe how a wide variety of cancer specimens are evaluated microscopically to provide information necessary for patient management, including diagnosis, histologic and molecular classification, tumor grade, pathologic stage, and the status of resection margins and (5) demonstrate the variety of technical methods used to assess biomarkers in cancer specimens and how different biomarkers are interpreted and used for patient management. To achieve these goals the fellow will spend (1) one week (3 full days) in the Gross and Frozen Section Laboratory with surgical pathology fellows, pathology assistants, and a pathology faculty member; (2) one week each (2 days a week) on 5 different surgical pathology subspecialty rotations to observe the gross and microscopic evaluation of cancer specimens with a subspecialty pathology faculty member and attend related clinical conferences; (3) one week on the cytopathology service and (4) 2 half days with a faculty member in the Tissue Qualification Laboratory and the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory and a half day observing processes in the histology and immunohistochemistry labs.
Medical Oncology Rotation
Director: Rachna Shroff, M.D.
The goals of the rotation are to: (1) introduce the fellow to the role systemic therapy plays in the treatment of cancer, (2) provide an exposure to the comprehensive evaluation of patients prior to receiving systemic therapy, (3) allow observation of patients in outpatient clinics before, during, and after systemic therapy, (4) provide the opportunity for the fellow to engage in the decision-making process that ensues when choosing appropriate systemic therapy regimens, (5) introduce the fellow to a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, with an emphasis on the timing and sequencing of systemic therapy as part of an overall treatment strategy and (6) introduce the fellow to ongoing clinical and translational research protocols and the processes involved for patients enrolled on clinical trials. To achieve these goals, the fellow will spend (1) one month each in two medical oncology departments, with an optimal educational and research benefit determined by the student and Dr. Shroff; (2) attend the assigned clinic 2.5 days or 5 half-days weekly; (3) attend the weekly multidisciplinary conference appropriate to the assigned medical oncology department.
Nicole Kettner, Ph.D.
TRIUMPH Fellow: 2016 - 2019
The TRIUMPH Program provided me with an incredibly rich training environment encompassing a wide range of research from the most basic to cutting edge clinical trials.