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Academic Requirements

Academic Requirements
Within City of Hope's Cancer Genetics Career Development Program (CGCDP), course work, seminars, workshops and lectures are designed to:
  • Broaden trainees' understanding of the full spectrum of cancer genetics, oncology and epidemiology
  • Reinforce fundamentals of applied clinical and research methodology
  • Establish a solid foundation for cross-disciplinary clinical and research activities
The primary mentor and the Executive Committee monitor trainees’ academic progress and fulfillment of required course work and special projects. The academic curriculum is comprised of new courses and lecture series tailored specifically for the CGCDP and formal collaboration with established City of Hope and University of Southern California educational programs. Trainees are also required to attend and complete coursework for each of the lecture series and seminars included in the  sample Weekly Traineeship Clinical and Academic Calendar .
Overall, the CGCDP provides for:
  • Eight hours of experiential training
  • Ten hours academic coursework
  • Four hours of interdisciplinary clinical conference work weekly, with protected time for research and interdisciplinary rotations
Trainees will have a minimum of 18 hours of direct research experience or training every week. Year two curriculum centers on completion of cancer prevention and control research projects and preparation of research proposals, advanced course work and thesis requirements for obtaining a Master's degree.
Curriculum Overview
The curricular components described below are developed specifically for CGCDP to address the unique need for integrated multidisciplinary knowledge and skills in cancer genetics. In addition to the inter- and cross-disciplinary didactic content of these materials, the curriculum incorporates practical, hands-on synthesis of newly acquired knowledge and skills, refinement of research design and implementation skills, and ensures genetics professionals are apprised of the most current developments in this rapidly evolving field. The following are the curriculum components:
  • Clinical Cancer Genetics Course
  • Cancer Genetics Working Group
  • Topics in Clinical Cancer Genetics
  • Methods in Cancer Genetics Epidemiology Research
  • Clinical Investigation Training Program
  • Interdisciplinary City of Hope Educational Activities

Academic Curriculum Components

Clinical Cancer Genetics Course
All trainees in City of Hope’s Cancer Genetics Career Development Program (CGCDP) are required to complete this 16-week course. This course provides a comprehensive knowledge base in cancer genetics, including the following:
  • Carcinogenesis: cellular, molecular, genetic and environmental etiology
  • Clinical features, pathology, epidemiology and treatment of cancer
  • Hereditary cancer syndromes
  • Cancer risk assessment
  • Cancer genetic counseling skills development
  • Genetic testing: legal, ethical and insurance issues related to genetic testing
  • Role of cancer registries and clinical research trials
Curriculum materials are developed as a ten-day, 60-hour CME-accredited intensive course, which is also open to cancer risk counselors in underserved communities.

The course curriculum is updated periodically under the direction of the Advisory Committee to accommodate the rapid developments in cancer genetics knowledge. Faculty and trainees have the opportunity to deliver selected lectures and update course content.
Cancer Genetics Working Group
The CME-accredited Clinical Cancer Genetics Working Group is comprised of experts from various disciplines who discuss cases and the best care for each patient. The Working Group convenes weekly to:

Review all Cancer Screening & Prevention Program Network (CSPPN) patient and family case histories Discuss cancer risk assessment, genetic test results interpretation and management strategies Discuss case-related interpersonal and familial psychosocial issues, and candidacy for chemopreventive, epidemiological and behavioral research protocolsThe rich clinical experience, coupled with multidisciplinary case discussion, form the cornerstone of the program's experiential training.
Topics in Clinical Cancer Genetics
A weekly lecture series focuses on issues in clinical cancer genetics and cancer genetics research, alternating between didactic lectures and “journal club.” Participants comment on and interpret primary research reports on key topics in molecular cancer genetics, risk assessment, epidemiological and behavioral research, and clinical cancer prevention. They learn how to present findings in summary form and incorporate important research findings into clinical practice and research projects. This lecture series is a primary forum for updates. A list of these topics and attachments to the related articles are also posted on our WebBoard, “The Genetics Link.”

The Genetics Link is City of Hope’s Clinical Cancer Genetics web forum. To expand their practical knowledge in the field of clinical cancer genetics, members of this discussion group exchange ideas and receive valuable feedback from experts and from one another. Membership in The Genetics Link is open by invitation only and to those who have been part of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Technology Transfer Research (CCGTTR) courses and outreach activities.
In collaboration with Dr. Stanley Azen, Director of the USC Graduate Programs in Biometry and Epidemiology, a dual-track customized curriculum in cancer epidemiology was initiated with University of Southern California (USC). The curriculum consists of two modules, in which trainees enroll concurrently.
All trainees are required to participate in selected topics.



Sample Weekly Schedule

Interdisciplinary City of Hope Educational Activities

Medical Oncology and Hematology Trainees Lecture Series
Dr. Lucille Leong (Medical Oncology staff member and co-investigator) coordinates this weekly lecture series, a broad offering of multidisciplinary topics in oncology.
Medical Oncology New Patient Conference
Convenes Thursdays from 8 to 9:30 a.m. to review new patient case histories, diagnoses and treatment recommendations. With emphasis on evaluating cancer cases for candidacy for clinical trial protocols, trainees attend weekly during the initial quarter of first traineeship year. Then trainees attend a minimum of one time per month. All medical oncology faculty, trainees, clinical research associates, and visiting community physicians attend the conference regularly.
Professional and Teaching Methodology for Professional and Lay Audiences
Under the direction of their primary mentors, trainees prepare and present lectures as part of the Cancer Genetics Education Program. This helps trainees develop their presentation and teaching skills, and serves as valuable preparation for formal presentation of their cancer genetics research projects.
Nursing Research and Education (NRE) Lectures and Training Opportunities
The Division of Nursing Research and Education conducts annual one to six day courses with interdisciplinary faculty, available for all trainees to attend. Courses include:
  • Basic Oncology
  • Care Curriculum for Cancer Nursing
  • Comprehensive Chemotherapy
  • Issues in Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Oncology
  • Interdisciplinary Pain Management
NRE has also piloted conversion of some in-service instruction lectures into electronic media-based modules.
Beckman Research Institute Molecular Genetics Lecture Series
Trainees attend selected lectures offered through this weekly one-hour seminar, conducted by the Molecular Genetics Program on a variety of basic research-related topics.
Breast Cancer Training Program
Funded by the Department of Defense under an Institutional Training Grant, the goal of this program is to provide training in the basic and clinical science of cancer. The program includes courses in the basic biology and pathology of breast cancer, prevention and treatment of breast cancer, the ethics of cancer research, breast cancer risk assessment, biostatistics and bioinformatics, and quality of life in breast cancer patients. All courses are available to program trainees. Selected seminars relevant to breast cancer molecular genetics are a required part of the year-one curriculum. Additional coursework from the series, focused on breast cancer biology and research methodology, is part of the doctoral Trainee year two Master’s degree requirements.
Clinical Investigation Lecture Series
This weekly series of lectures is an integral part of the NIH-funded Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program (K12). Selected course content is relevant to the Cancer Genetics Career Development Program as well. The series covers basic elements of clinical trial design and implementation, a thorough coverage of topics related to human protection and IRB procedures, data and safety monitoring, and extensive instruction on the preparation of research proposals for submission to funding agencies.
Host and Environmental Determinants of Cancer Susceptibility (HEDCS0 and Cancer Center-Sponsored Seminars)
Under the co-direction of Dr. Marcia Grant and Dr. Theodore Krontiris, this seminar series is a periodic working group meeting of basic and clinical research program leaders. Members have expertise in mutation detection and recognition of gene interactions predisposing to cancer susceptibility in populations at varying risks of disease. Verification of insights from model systems in human populations is critical to the formulation of new approaches to disease control in the emerging field of molecular therapeutics, including gene therapy and chemoprevention. The seminars focus on understanding the relationships among gene sequence variation, the functional effect of that variation (particularly upon genetic instability), carcinogen targeting and variations in the quality and quantity of gene repair.
Trainees participate in selected seminars that complement offerings of the basic Molecular Biology Program, which is focused predominantly on gene regulation, recombination and modulation. The Molecular Carcinogenesis Program is directed toward mechanisms of DNA adduct formation and DNA repair and the Hematologic Malignancies Program and Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Program focuses on molecularly-targeted therapeutic research.
Elective Cross-disciplinary Rotations
The CGCDP offers a broad sampling of multidisciplinary clinical cancer care electives from which trainees select for focused clinical exposure and enhancing the interdisciplinary aspects of their chosen research project. Options include wet lab in the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Breast Cancer Clinic, Social Services, Radiotherapy, Diagnostic Imaging, Chemotherapy-Infusion Center, Cytogenetics, and Surgical Pathology.
Problem-based Learning Modules in Cancer Genetics – Problem-based Learning (PBL) methods use integrated problem solving to drive the learning process. These methods are particularly suitable for teaching clinical cancer genetics, where the complex nature of the science and the disease, the individual and family concerns, and ethical issues come together in the clinical encounter. PBL modules are developed as a series, each focusing on a specific clinical issue or skill area through which trainees practice detailed, interdisciplinary case analysis to learn and refine the skills necessary for clinical expertise. PBL modules are incorporated into the Clinical Cancer Genetics Course curriculum.
Electronic Media Cancer Genetics Lecture Series – Given the opportunities for interactive and self-directed learning from electronic media-based instruction, core cancer genetics lectures, seminars, and PBL modules will be converted to digital format over the duration of the program for CME-accredited, web-based interactive self-teaching and review.

Methods in Cancer Genetics Epidemiology Research

Module 1
The first module is a one-year certification program culminating in a Specialty Program Certificate granted jointly by USC and City of Hope’s Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics / Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences. Requirements for the Certificate include eight units of coursework through the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine as well as coursework and research projects through City of Hope. Nurse and genetic counselor trainees in the Certificate Program enroll under limited student status at USC, and receive a USC transcript and formal graduate credit for completed coursework.
Module 2
The second module is a two-year Masters of Science program in applied cancer genetics developed by City of Hope and USC. The program requires each trainee to complete 25 core units, including a master's thesis. Formal admission of physician trainees to USC is required for entrance into the Masters program. This module is facilitated by Dr. Azen. Full tuition is included in the support budget for all trainees.

The objective of the certification program is to instill trainees with basic epidemiologic and statistical principles. Course topics include basic statistics, study methodology, sampling procedures, and questionnaire development. Through these courses, trainees learn how to:
  • Select appropriate statistical methods and apply these methods to raw data
  • Read, critique, and interpret statistical concepts in the literature, as well as analyze computer output from commonly used statistical packages
  • Gain experience in how to access, interpret, and analyze population-based cancer registry data using surveillance data collected by the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP), the largest of the eleven NCI-Sponsored Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registries.
It is expected that genetic epidemiologic studies emanating from such registries will form a model system for high quality cancer genetics research with translational potential. This aspect of the curriculum will be further enhanced by proposed training in creation and manipulation of clinical registry databases through the Department of Information Sciences, under the direction of faculty member/mentor Dr. Joyce Niland. The advanced coursework provides the physician trainee with a basic understanding of genetic and molecular epidemiology and introduces them to the emerging field of bioinformatics. Course topics include basic genetics concepts (such as Mendelian genetics and the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium), segregation analysis, linkage analysis, and an introduction to genetic susceptibility to cancer. Topics in bioinformatics include information collection methods, database design, information retrieval, data mining, and novel methods for data analysis (including CART and neural networks). Course reviews by both physician and allied health professional participants are highly appraised.


Clinical Cancer Genetics
The City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics is committed to being a national leader in the advancement of cancer genetics, screening and prevention, through innovative patient care, research and education.

Contact Us
  • 800-826-HOPE (4673)
  • For more information about the Cancer Screening & Prevention Program, call 626-256-8662, ext. 2.
CCG Newsletter: Closing the Loop
View the current issue: CCG 2013 Newsletter 7-14-14
Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope is internationally  recognized for its innovative biomedical research.
City of Hope is one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country, the highest designation awarded by the National Cancer Institute to institutions that lead the way in cancer research, treatment, prevention and professional education.
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