Abstract. There has been a substantial growth in nanotechnology research in cancer demonstrating that
nanotechnology could provide unique and otherwise unattainable solutions to cancer management including
very early cancer detection, accurate molecular specific diagnosis and treatment that diminishes side effects.
However, achieving this promise is extremely challenging because it requires overcoming multiple constraints
imposed by translational barriers in clinical applications of nanomaterials that is multiplied by complexity of
cancer biology. Currently, there is a growing gap between new discoveries coming at a fast pace from academic
labs and their translation into clinic. Therefore, there is an urgent need in addressing this gap in cancer
nanotechnology translational pipeline. To this end, we have designed a novel training program to educate future
leaders in the broad field of nanotechnology with specific interests in cancer-related applications, who are keenly
aware of the needs and demands of clinical environment as well as of major challenges of translational research.
We believe that the only way to train cancer translation minded Ph.D. researchers is to insert them into the
environment of an outstanding cancer center. Therefore, our program is based on a close collaboration between
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University. As part of our program, we have
developed a comprehensive plan for recruiting trainees from diversity groups that are historically
underrepresented in health-related research, including women, individuals from racial and ethnic groups,
individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Our training program includes multidisciplinary mentorship of translational research projects combined with
multidisciplinary, hands-on coursework and seminar experiences. All trainees will work with at least two program
faculty mentors (one from Rice and one from MD Anderson) to define and carry out an independent research
problem. Didactic coursework will prepare them to contribute to research projects that directly address barriers
to translation of nanotechnology-based approaches and to develop the skills needed to define and lead such
projects. Incoming trainees will participate in a unique one-week-long boot camp in “Cancer Management and
Nanotechnology” that provides an overview of current opportunities and barriers in the field. Trainees will develop
foundational background in the field from program specific seminar series and by taking courses related to
translational cancer or nanotechnology topics. Trainees will gain essential writing skills through scientific writing
seminars and by writing a NIH grant proposal that will be reviewed by a NIH-style Mock Study Section. Finally,
trainees will gain important lab management skills by participating in a short hands-on course providing an
introduction to laboratory and project management. At the end of the program, fellows will have a deep
understanding of translational research in cancer nanotechnology, with the most important component being the
demonstrated ability to carry out independent translational research in this challenging multidisciplinary field.