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Grant bolsters cancer epidemiology training for PhD students

By DAVID J. HILL

Published September 5, 2017

“We have had excellent students who trained with us and who have been very successful in their careers.”
Jo Freudenheim, professor and chair
Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

The School of Public Health and Health Professions has received a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to fund interdisciplinary training in cancer epidemiology for UB doctoral students, recognition of a legacy of excellence in training in cancer epidemiology at UB.

The $737,000 grant is a collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The co-principal investigators are Jo Freudenheim, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at UB and Kirsten Moysich, distinguished professor of oncology at Roswell Park.

The grant is new but it builds on a training program that has been funded at UB for the past 10 years. This new funding is a reflection of the recognition UB has received from the National Institutes of Health for the program’s outstanding record of cancer epidemiology training.

“Funding for this grant is dependent on the records of training and mentoring of the PIs and the participating faculty. We have an outstanding team involved in this training program,” Freudenheim notes. “We have had excellent students who trained with us and who have been very successful in their careers.”

The grant provides resources to UB to expand and enrich the department’s current training program in cancer epidemiology.

“This funding helps us to bring the best and the brightest students to Western New York, allowing them to leverage the strong program in epidemiology at UB with the opportunity to be part of the cutting-edge cancer research at both UB and Roswell Park,” Freudenheim says.

Students in the program receive their PhD in epidemiology from UB’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. The specialized curriculum includes additional coursework in cancer epidemiology and cancer biology at both UB and Roswell Park.

In addition, students engage in interdisciplinary research, working with faculty from either or both institutions. And in an effort to teach students how to work in an interdisciplinary team, all trainees also have mentors from at least two different disciplines.

UB has enjoyed a lot of success in training outstanding scholars during that past 10 years, Freudenheim says, adding that trainees have gone on to research careers that include a leadership position at the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a director of a research consortium, along with others who have landed postdoctoral fellowships at places including Harvard, the NCI, the CDC, Emory, UB and Roswell Park.

“It is a real honor to receive this prestigious grant. We are very excited about this opportunity for our students,” Freudenheim says.