Research Fellowship in Translational & Genomic Pediatric Cancer Epidemiology

This training program emanates from the Division of Pediatric Epidemiology and Clinical Research and the Masonic Cancer Center. This program provides opportunities for both pre- and post-doctoral students to enhance their research training and experience in translational pediatric cancer epidemiology.

Trainees have the opportunity to work in a variety of research settings including classical epidemiology, statistical genetics/computational biology, laboratory bench science, and clinical investigations. Along with coursework specific to pediatric cancer, strong graduate school degree programs at the University of Minnesota in Epidemiology (PhD) and in Clinical Research (MS) offer opportunities for courses in epidemiology, cancer epidemiology, biostatistics, cancer biology, genetic epidemiology, immunology, clinical trials/methods, and field research. Further, students have several unparalleled opportunities for supervised translational research projects in stem cell biology, human and animal research, study design and development, statistical analysis approaches, and individual and team grant writing.

Trainees who graduate from this program will have the capacity to undertake high impact pediatric cancer research across a spectrum of disciplines. It is expected that at least two post-doctoral trainees will choose to obtain a Master's degree in Clinical Research through the Graduate School. All trainees will participate in monthly pediatric epidemiology meetings, an annual retreat, and present their own research at national meetings. All trainees will receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research. Under-represented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Program Overview
  • Eligibility & Application
  • Benefits, Contract, & Stipend
  • Current Fellows
  • Program Overview

    Trainees will be provided opportunities to study all aspects of translational pediatric cancer epidemiology. The notable feature of this training grant is an exposure to a multi-disciplinary group of investigators who are highly interactive in their research endeavors. This program allows translational pediatric cancer epidemiology trainees an opportunity to integrate cross-educate in pediatric cancer epidemiology, biology, etiology, and clinical research. Available interconnecting research themes among our mentors include the following:
     

    1. “Classical” epidemiology: A major challenge to pediatric cancer research is assembling a sufficiently large number of cases. Fortunately, several T32 mentors have leadership positions in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), which greatly facilitates research. Besides the consortium of cases, advantages of working with COG include centralized clinical and laboratory data and opportunity for collaboration with investigators from multiple disciplines. Additional former data sets available for student analyses include other case-control studies of childhood cancer. Moreover, childhood cancer-related databases are available for students to pose a hypothesis and address important questions related to causes.
       
    2. Statistical genetics/computational biology: Classical epidemiological studies to date have mostly ruled out large effects due to environmental exposures alone. Real breakthroughs in understanding etiology require novel and expanded approaches to augment and inform traditional epidemiological studies. We lead large genetic studies of pediatric osteosarcoma, hepatoblastoma, infant leukemia, Ewing sarcoma, germ cell tumors, and myelodysplastic syndromes; several involve collection of DNA from families. Further, mentors are identifying genetic mutations in laboratory and animal models that are directly translatable to our human studies.
       
    3. Laboratory bench science: When genetic mutations are identified, or environmental exposures are revealed from observational studies, it is often necessary to consider functional significance and impact before extrapolation to human cancer. Our team of mentors is at the forefront in pediatric cancer.
       
    4. Clinical investigations: We are closely working with clinical oncologists to apply knowledge learned from epidemiology and/or genetics toward both better risk stratification of patients as well as potential development of new treatments.
       

    Our interdisciplinary research collaborations from population to bench to bedside are on a continuum for the highest translational impact in pediatric cancer. Each mentor is affiliated with at least one research theme and is highly collaborative.

    Predoctoral students will be formally admitted into the PhD program in Epidemiology. The coursework options for the PhD degree include two formal tracks (either biological/clinical or social/behavioral) and each provides a well-rounded approach to translational pediatric cancer epidemiology. The core curriculum consists of a minimum of 63 semester credits. Specific to this training program, predoctoral students are required to take Cancer Epidemiology, Readings in Pediatric Cancer Epidemiology (where they work on a specific project/analysis that results in publication), Epidemiologic Methods, and Biostatistics. We also help guide students toward an appropriate minor as they develop their projects with their mentors.

    Postdoctoral trainees are drawn from the medical and basic sciences through national advertising through our cancer center membership. Candidates also include medical fellows who have completed their clinical training in pediatric hematology/oncology and bone marrow transplantation, and are beginning their research in the Department of Pediatrics. Therefore, pediatric fellows would be eligible for appointment to the T32 only after their clinical (first) year is complete. Depending on their level of background training and interest, postdoctoral trainees can choose to earn a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Research. It is expected that at least two postdoctoral trainees will choose to obtain an MS Degree in Clinical Research through the Graduate School.

    Fellowship Length

    For predoctoral fellows, the fellowship supports the Ph.D. degree. A minimum of three years on fellowship is anticipated, with a five-year maximum. For postdoctoral fellows, a two-year minimum commitment to traineeship is expected, with a three-year maximum.

    Faculty

    Program Director

    • Logan Spector, PhD, Medical School, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Epidemiology & Clinical Research; School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology

    Medical School

    College of Biological Sciences

    College of Science and Engineering

    School of Public Health

  • Eligibility & Application

    Eligibility

    Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents. The predoctoral trainee will be formally admitted into the Ph.D. program in Epidemiology. Postdoctoral trainees may include medical fellows who have completed their clinical training and are beginning a research training period, as well as recent Ph.D. recipients in health sciences (laboratory, clinical and epidemiology).

    A trainee must be a citizen or non-citizen national of the U.S. or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., in possession of a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551, or some other legal verification of such status). Non-citizen nationals are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the U.S. (e.g., American Samoa and Swains Island). Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible. If your application is approved, we will require proof of citizenship, such as a notarized photocopy of passport or other legal verification.

    National Research Service Award: T32 CA099936

    Availability

    There are one predoctoral and three postdoctoral fellowship positions. Please contact the Program Director, Dr. Logan Spector, or the Program Assistant, Ginny Oie, via email to find out current availability before applying.

    Program Director/Mentor
    Logan Spector, Ph.D.
    spector@umn.edu

    Program Assistant
    Ginny K.F. Oie
    oie@umn.edu

    Application Process

    After confirming that you are eligible and that a fellowship slot is available, complete an application, obtain three references, and e-mail to:

    Dr. Logan Spector
    spector@umn.edu

  • Benefits, Contract, & Stipend

    Stipend
    Based on current NIH-approved levels and years of post-doctoral experience. Annual appointments, with a three-year minimum commitment expected of pre-doctoral trainees, a two-year minimum commitment of postdoctoral trainees. Five-year maximum pre-doctoral support, three-year maximum post-doctoral support.

    Current Predoctoral Stipend: $24,816
    Current Postdoctoral Stipend: $50,004 - $61,308, based on experience since receipt of the doctoral degree.

    Service payback obligation
    Applies only to postdoctoral trainees during their first 12 months of training. The second and subsequent years of postdoctoral training will serve to pay back a postdoctoral service payback obligation. 

    Visit the NSRA Payback Service Center

    Tuition
    Full payment of tuition and fees.

    Travel
    Reimbursement of pre-approved travel expenses to one professional meeting per grant year.

    Other research-related expenses
    Reimbursement for textbooks and other required course materials, as well as certain other research-related expenses, on a pre-approval basis.

    Health Insurance
    The monthly premiums are paid for self or family coverage; trainees are required to pay $131.10 per semester.

    Vacation/sick/parental leave
    Trainees receive stipends during the normal periods of vacation and holidays observed at the University of Minnesota.  The period between spring and fall semesters is an active time of research training and is not considered to be a vacation or holiday.

    Trainees may receive stipends for up to 15 calendar days of sick leave per year.  Sick leave may be used for the medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Up to 30 calendar days of parental leave per year is allowed for the adoption or birth of a child.

    Office Space
    Trainees are generally housed individually with the research advisor to whom they are assigned.

    Administrative support
    No routine clerical support is provided by the training grant.  An assistant to the Program Director will coordinate administrative functions such as processing of appointment documents, tuition and health insurance premium payments, and reimbursements for travel and other training-related expenses.

  • Current Fellows

    Pre-Doctoral Fellows

    Aubrey Hubbard, MPH

    hubba208@umn.edu 

    Aubrey received her MPH in Epidemiology from The George Washington University in May 2016. During her degree, she conducted data analysis on genetic data for the Diabetes Prevention Program and immediately following she transitioned into data collection and management for clinical trials to prevent preterm birth.  She began her fellowship training and PhD in Fall of 2017.  Her primary research interests are in the genetic and epi-genetic etiology of childhood cancers and further exploration of the link between childhood cancer and very low birthweight.  She will be researching these topics under Dr. Poynter.

    Post-Doctoral Fellows

    Taumoha Ghosh, MD

    taumoha@umn.edu 

    I am currently a fellow in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at the University of Minnesota. After earning my medical degree from St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies and completing their Global Scholars Program in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, I pursued my pediatric residency at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland and stayed on for an additional year as chief resident. During residency, I cared for many hematology patients and pursued clinical research in sickle cell disease. My current research, under the mentorship of Dr. Lucie Turcotte and Dr. Peter Gordon is focused on the role of obesity in the incidence and outcomes of pediatric leukemia.

    Diana Lone, DO

    lone0067@umn.edu

    I am currently a fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology and bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota. I earned my medical degree at Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed residency in general pediatrics at Advocate Children's Hospital/Lutheran General Hospital in Illinois. Throughout this training, I developed an interest in treating children with cancer and survivorship. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jen Poynter, I will be researching late effects experienced by survivors of pediatric germ cell tumors.