USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination Programs

Pre-Collegiate

Cancer STEM Education Partnership (C-SEPP)

The goal of this program, led by W. Martin Kast, PhD, is to stimulate knowledge and interest in cancer research and care in elementary school students. The program is developed in collaboration with Dieuwertje (DJ) Kast, MS, MAT, EdD, at the USC Dornsife School’s Joint Educational Project, and co-investigators at the USC Rossier School of Education.  It consists of Next Generation Science Standard aligned, hands-on, and inquiry-based educational curricula for second to fifth grade students in elementary schools serving underrepresented minorities (URM).

The curricula are concentrated in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related to cancer, and will be evaluated through randomized control trials. When fully developed, it will reach more than 2,000 URM students and their teachers each year in seven Los Angeles elementary schools located in the catchment area of USC Norris. Subsequently, it will be disseminated nationwide to science teacher association networks, through both online classes and peer reviewed publications. 

SUN-SMART Health  Curriculum

The SunSmart program provides high-level health and science instruction in alignment with grade-level content standards to diverse high school students in LA County. Students receive a sun safety curriculum led by a professional health educator comprising hands-on, fun activities to motivate them to practice sun-safe behaviors. Lessons take place in the classroom for one hour a week for four consecutive weeks. The program is led by Myles Cockburn, PhD, and Kimberly Miller, PhD. To learn more about this program, check out their website: https://sunsmart.usc.edu/.

Undergraduate and Graduate:

Convergence: Intro to Cancer

This innovative course exposes students to the concept of convergence to gain an understanding of the important role of interdisciplinary science and to prepare them to work in a transdisciplinary cancer research environment. Overseen by Dr. Yves DeClerck, the class is taught by seven instructors from the Viterbi School of Engineering, Departments of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, and the Michelson Center for Convergent Biomedical Science.  For more information regarding this class, please contact declerck@usc.edu.

MED-445: Oncology in the Modern Era

This 2-unit course, directed by Diane DaSilva, PhD, provides USC undergraduate students with exposure to the real-life clinical side of health care. It introduces students to the spectrum of clinical and scientific issues surrounding contemporary cancer care – research, risk factors and prevention, molecular, diagnostics, genomic medicine, modern therapeutics, survivorship, community/patient engagement, and cancer health disparities. For more information regarding this class, please contact Diane DaSilva, PhD, at Diane.DaSilva@med.usc.edu.

Cancer Biology and Genomics PhD Program

This is one of four PhD programs at KSOM, and the only one that has a sole focus on cancer. This program, led by Josh Neman, PhD, has recruited 23 students since its creation in 2013. This curriculum includes courses in biomedical engineering in cancer and a course on cancer health disparities. The program currently has 25 students, 23 PhD and 2 MD, PhD candidates. To learn more information about the program, click HERE.

St. George Cancer Interest Group 

The St. George Society interest group brings together 1st and 2nd year medical students with an interest in cancer. Activities are organized by an elected board to which Dr. Yves DeClerck provides advice. Among the activities organized are a cancer survivors panel discussion that address socio-economic issues such as financial toxicity and health disparities. Additional activities include:

  • Lunch panel talks: Students hear from USC Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Surgical Oncologists, and Pediatric Oncologists on a variety of topics, and have an opportunity to ask questions to cancer experts.
  • Dinner talks: Students enjoy intimate small group dinners at the USC Faculty Club and are given the opportunity to network and engage with pioneering USC oncologists.
  • Norris Cancer Center Grand Rounds: Students have the opportunity to come to a Grand Rounds talk to directly interact with experts in the field and discuss the latest cutting-edge research in oncology.
  • LAC + USC and Norris Tumor Boards: Students are given the opportunity to observe the collaboration of a variety of oncologists from various specialties as they debate current cases and how those cases were managed.
  • Medical Student Research and Shadowing Program: This program offers interested students research opportunities, mentorship opportunities, or shadowing experience.
  • Community Outreach: Students have the opportunity to engage with patients and survivors through various events, such as patient support group meetings and charity events.

If you would like more information about the St. George Society Interest Group or any of the services it offers, please send an email to stgeorgeoncology.keck@gmail.com or click HERE.

R25: Summer Oncology  Fellowship 

Our NIH-supported, highly competitive Summer Oncology Research Fellowship (SORF) Program is designed for students in the summer between their 1st and 2nd years of medical school who are considering a biomedical career that involves cancer research. This research fellowship is held at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and at USC Norris. SORF immerses top medical students in cutting-edge research experiences within a Team Science framework in oncology and related fields. Students are matched with mentoring teams according to interests and research experience.

Research projects are in pediatric, adolescent/young adult or adult oncology, in fields of clinical, translational, or laboratory research and/or new frontiers in bioinformatics, biomedical engineering, precision medicine, population-based research, survivorship, and other oncology-related fields. 

Students are immersed in their research project under experienced faculty mentors, visit centers of emerging sciences, participate in social activities, interact with faculty, trainees, and cancer survivors and engage in a dynamic interactive curriculum of selected topics in oncology, career development, research skills, research communication, and responsible conduct of research.

Students apply online. Following careful review, the SORF executive committee invites the top 10 to 20 percent of applicants to the program. Invited students indicate their top five project/mentor choices from a list provided and are paired with one. They then connect with their mentor, read background and conceptualize and submit a research proposal prior to arrival. Applicants with serious laboratory research interest are given special attention. Students from underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply. Students receive a $600/week subsistence. Travel and housing assistance are available for qualifying students. Some students may also be supported for additional research weeks during the school year.

To learn more about this program, email HSOP@chla.usc.edu

Post-Doctoral​

Medical Oncology Research Fellowship 

This initiative led by James Hu, MD, Yves DeClerk, MD, and Amir Goldkorn, MD, is supported by USC Norris and the Department of Medicine. It provides a special track for post-doctoral MD fellows in adult oncology and malignant hematology-oncology programs. The curriculum includes career development, oversight by a Scholarship Oversight Committee (SOC) that meets three times a year to evaluate progress, attendance at educational workshops, and course work. For more information relating to this research track, please contact James Hu, MD, at jameshu@usc.edu.  

Data Science Fellowship 

The Hui Lui and Michael Cao Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Cancer Data Science is a new program, funded by a gift given to USC Norris in 2020, that will support up to two USC Norris mentored post-doctoral trainees to undertake research in novel data science approaches to cancer risk assessment, prevention, and/or treatment. Among the post-doctoral fellows funded in the first year, one will apply artificial intelligence leveraging gene expression data to improve classification of brain tumors, while the other will apply machine learning algorithms leveraging the electronic health record to identify aggressive prostate cancer subgroups for targeted screening.

Clinical Trials Workshop 

In collaboration with the Medical Director of the USC Norris Cancer Investigations Support Office (CISO), Anthony El-Khoueiry, MD, several new educational offerings support faculty and trainee career development as clinical trialists. Ad hoc individual or small group orientations also occur at other times as needed in response to new faculty recruitments. Notably, these orientations are supplemented by a Clinical Trials Workshop that offers structured training on the principles of clinical trials design and conduct for all USC Norris fellows and junior faculty. The workshop consists of ten weekly lectures and is a joint effort between CISO, the Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination Programs, and the Data Science Shared Resource.

Faculty

K-R Grant Club

With the support of USC Norris, CRTEC initiated the K-R Grant Club in 2017 to provide individualized mentoring to USC Norris junior faculty toward submission of NIH K and R applications. Applications are solicited on an annual basis and reviewed by the CRTEC Internal Advisory Committee. There is a three-level process:
      1. an initial face to face review of the specific aims page and initial study design between the junior faculty member and two to three senior mentors (from different disciplines) with a track record of NIH funding and experience in the peer review process;
      2. a detailed review of the entire application by one to two senior faculty members at least three months before the submission date; and
      3. review by a grants editor with experience in grant writing and submission.
To get more information, contact Yves DeClerck, MD, Associate Director of Training and Education, at declerck@usc.

U54 Center for Cancer Health Equity

Under the leadership of Dr. John Carpten and Dr. Mariana Stern at USC, we have teamed up with the University of Florida, and the Florida A&M University, a historically Black college, to work together in research, education, and community outreach via the Florida-California Cancer Research, Education and Engagement Health Equity Center (CaRE2). This center addresses cancer disparities with a focus on prostate and pancreatic cancer among African Americans and Latinos, though not limited to those cancers. The program trains URM faculty (and graduate and post-doctoral trainees) to conduct research on cancer health disparities and community outreach and engagement. Numerous USC Norris members participate in teaching. This program (2018-2023) will support the training of seven post-baccalaureate students, 15 PhD students, 15 post-doctoral fellows, and 15 early stage investigators.

For more information, contact Anne Taguchi, Center Administrator
, at ataguchi@usc.edu

Professionals

CRTEC-COE Community Education

The first bilingual Community Cancer Conference on Innovative Research and Precision Oncology Treatments was held at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles on November 9th, 2019. The conference was organized by a collaboration between the Tower Cancer Research Foundation, The Lippin Family, Lazarex Cancer Foundation, the USC Norris Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE), the Office of Training and Education, and the Florida-California Cancer Research, Education & Engagement (CaRE2) Health Equity Center.

A series of community partners supported the effort. Dr. Caryn Lerman, Director of USC Norris, made a welcome focusing on precision medicine and under-represented minorities in cancer research, followed by panels and presentations from prominent professionals and cancer survivors.

During this inaugural conference, COE gave the first Annual Trojan Partnership Award; the first recipients of this distinction were the Tower Cancer Research Foundation and the Lippin Family for their contributions to supporting the underserved patient community in Los Angeles.  This conference will occur annually. For more information, please contact Dr. Carolina Aristizabal at caristiz@usc.edu.