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Graduate Training

Basic Sciences

The Cancer Biology program in the Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) Graduate Group provides PhD students an opportunity to undertake concentrated study of the basic biological processes that contribute to the initiation and progression of cancer. The program stresses the importance of fundamental genetic and molecular pathways regulating cell growth, metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, movement, and survival. Faculty members in the program have active research programs in the areas of oncogenesis, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle control, apoptosis, tumor virology, angiogenesis, cell migration/metastasis, and cancer immunology. Opportunities to participate in research programs in cancer genetics and epidemiology are also available. In addition to individual faculty-led research programs, the program in Cancer Biology sponsors a weekly work-in-progress seminar series in which students in the program present their current research. Students are also invited to attend weekly seminars in the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute seminar series, and meet visiting seminar speakers. The program is designed to train students interested in obtaining a PhD degree who plan to pursue careers in academic research, biotechnology, or related industries.

Related graduate programs within the Perelman School of Medicine offer PhD degrees in basic research disciplines intimately associated with cancer research, including:

The Immunology Graduate Group (IGG) provides PhD students the opportunity to conduct research in a broad array of fields related to cancer biology, including the development and regulation of the immune system, host-pathogen interactions, the fundamental molecular and cellular biology of the immune system, structural studies of immunologically relevant molecules and translational immunology and immunotherapy. Research results are being utilized in both experimental models and clinical trials attempting to fight diseases.

The Graduate Group in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (BMB) is devoted to the education and training of a new generation of scientists ready to apply quantitative, mechanistic and molecular approaches to advance the frontiers of biomedical research BMB offers truly interdisciplinary training that is coordinated by a fluid and diverse faculty representing many departments and schools of the University. The more than 90 research laboratories affiliated with BMB share common interests to understand biological phenomena at the fundamental molecular level, exploiting an ever-increasing battery of biochemical and biophysical techniques. Many faculty conduct research on the molecular basis of post-translational modifications and cellular signaling that contribute to cancer.

The Graduate Program in Genomics and Computational Biology (GCB) is dedicated to train the next generation of quantitative scientists with an integrated and deep understanding of the biological basis of health and disease. Genomics and computational biology are now at the center of biomedical research. These disciplines take a holistic approach to ask about the origins, functions, and interactions of whole systems, using both experimental and theoretical work. Therefore, these studies require knowledge, skills, and, most importantly, synthesis and integration of biology, computer science, mathematics, statistics, and engineering.

The Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology program of the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group (CAMB/MVP) includes many faculty conducting research on tumor viruses, including EBV, KSHV, alpha and beta herpesvirus, HPV, HCV, HIV and other retroviruses, as well as emerging viral agents including Merkel cell polyoma viruses and other recently identified gamma-herpesviruses.

Clinical Sciences

Combined MD/PhD and VMD/PhD degree training in all areas of cancer research is also available through the Perelman School of Medicine combined MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), and the combined VMD/PhD Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program offered through Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The School of Nursing provides a broad array of outstanding Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) training options, including oncology training through the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program. A one-of-a-kind program, this concentration offers students a strong foundation in normal development with a side specialization in pediatric oncology, including training to deliver comprehensive care to children with cancer and their families. The program is structured to develop physical assessment skills, clinical decision making, continuity of care, family interventions, health care policy collaboration, and transition care related to children with cancer.

Population Sciences

Many faculty members in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Bioinformatics, as well as the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB), are affiliated with the Cancer Control and Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Programs in the Abramson Cancer Center.

The Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Bioinformatics provides MS and PhD degree training in Biostatistics, as well as MS and PhD degree training in Epidemiology.

Additional MS training offered through the Program in Health Policy Research and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics provides conferences and grant opportunities in health economics and health policy related to cancer care.

The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) offers multiple graduate training programs related to environmental impact on cancer etiology and treatment.