Cancer Research Careers
Despite impressive progress during the past 30 years, cancer remains one of the most complex and challenging problems of biomedical research. For this reason, cancer research is a key area of research at UNMC. The Cancer Research Doctoral Program, offered through the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, is the cornerstone of a National Cancer Institute-supported Cancer Biology Training Program at UNMC. The Cancer Research Doctoral Program is one of the six programs within the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS) and includes over 100 faculty from the Eppley Institute and other basic and clinical departments within UNMC.
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Updated Policy Regarding GRE Admissions Requirement
Domestic Applicants: The GRE is not required for IGPBS applicants who are either US citizens or permanent residents. However, such students may submit GRE scores for consideration during application review.
International Applicants: The GRE is required of all international applicants. However, waivers of the GRE requirement can be granted to international applicants who have been enrolled in a degree-granting program at a U.S. university, inside the U.S., for at least one academic year, or attendance at a university in a country where the only official language is English (e.g., the U.K., Australia, or Canada excluding Quebec).
All Cancer Research Doctoral Program student receive a yearly stipend of $27,000.
Eligible students may be awarded Cancer Research Program Scholarships ($200/month for a maximum of 2 years, above the $27,000/year stipend) will be available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with research experience and high GPAs and GRE scores (or MCAT scores, for M.D./Ph.D. students) who commit to joining the Cancer Research Doctoral Program. Receiving the second year of funding will be contingent on making good progress in research and having a UNMC GPA over 3.0 at the end of the first year in the graduate program.
A higher level of Cancer Research Program Scholarships ($300-400/month for a maximum of 4 years, above the stipend) will also be available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who commit to joining the Cancer Research Doctoral Program. The scholarships will be given on the basis of exceptionally good research experience, GPA, and GRE scores (or MCAT scores, for M.D./Ph.D. students). Receiving funding in the second through fourth years will be contingent on making good research progress and having a UNMC GPA over 3.0 at the end of the first year in the graduate program. These scholarships would start at $300/month and rise to $400/month upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam.
The Cancer Research Program students rotate in three laboratories and then choose one in which to complete their thesis research. Students also complete the coursework that they have planned in accordance with the guidelines of their own Supervisory Committees (small groups of faculty members that have expertise especially relevant to the student's research project) and of the Cancer Research Program. The students write and defend a comprehensive exam in the form of a grant application. Cancer Research Program students accomplish creative, thorough research and have results from that research accepted by a scientific journal as either first author or co-first author prior to the scheduling of their doctoral dissertation defense. The Cancer Research Program students begin presenting their research in seminars in their second year and continue giving seminars every year in the program's seminar series, and they also frequently give oral and poster presentations at national and international scientific conferences. Once the student finishes the dissertation, he/she presents a final seminar on the results and completes an oral examination given by his/her Supervisory Committee.
Cancer researchers at UNMC are engaged in work that addresses the root causes of cancer, as well as the means of enhancing the detection and treatment of cancer. This research employs a wide range of animal and cellular model systems, includes both basic and translational research, and focuses heavily on the molecular basis of cancer. As a result, Cancer Research Doctoral Program students receive broad-based training in all aspects of cancer biology and employ cutting-edge experimental approaches in their research.
Supported in part by a Training Grant from the National Cancer Institute, this innovative program trains future scientists to approach cancer research knowledgeably and creatively and to enter careers in which they can make a significant contribution. Cancer Research Doctoral Program students work in state-of-the-art laboratories and participate in important cancer research with nationally and internationally renowned scientists while pursuing a Ph.D. in Cancer Research. Cancer Research Doctoral Program graduates are highly recruited for postdoctoral work in top laboratories at universities, government laboratories, and private industry.
Causes of Cancer
This area of research includes evaluation of the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to cancer incidence, as well as cancer prevention. Research efforts related to this area of inquiry include:
- Functional genomics
- DNA damage & repair
- Nutrition and cancer
- Environmental risk factors
- Cancer genetics
- Animal models of cancer
Molecular and Cellular Characteristics of Cancer
This research is focused in the differences in molecules and cells that help define cancer. The following avenues are taken in research at the molecular level:
- Gene expression
- Signal transduction
- Structural biochemistry
Diagnostics and Therapeutics
State-of-the-art technology couples with cutting-edge cancer research at UNMC to identify new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer. Several research innovations are used, including:
- High-throughput screening for novel anti-tumor drugs
- Analysis of unique clinical cancer resources
- Identification of new cancer biomarkers
Courses and Other Education Opportunities
- Special topic courses on grant writing and seminar presentation skills
- Translational cancer research
- Attendance at discussions of cancer cases by oncologists
- Participation in interdisciplinary clinical/basic cancer research groups
- Professor (at major research medical centers and at smaller teaching-oriented colleges)
- Senior Licensing Specialist (a position that involves working out agreements between academic laboratories and pharmaceutical industries to commercialize new cancer-related discoveries)
- Assistant Director of a Clinical Molecular Oncology Laboratory
- Director of Bioengineering for a global biopharmaceutical company
- Scientific Director at a company specializing in health-related media communications
- Postdoctoral Fellow (including positions at Yale, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Harvard, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, etc.)
- Clinical Instructor
- Medical Resident (focusing on Pathology, Radiation Oncology, or other specialties)