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

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.


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 Pharmacy

College of Science and Engineering

School of Public Health


Eligibility & Application


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


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.

Program Assistant
Robyn Kim

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

Benefits, Contract, & 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: $25,836
Current Postdoctoral Stipend: $53,760 - $65,292, 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

Full payment of tuition and fees.

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 $152.82 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

Tenzin Yangchen

I completed my MPH from Stony Brook University in 2021. Then, I served as an ORISE Fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before starting my Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2022. My research interest, under the mentorship of Dr. Logan Spector, centers on exploring connections between measures of immigration, acculturation, and the risk of childhood cancer. Through the unparalleled training opportunity, I aim to develop skills that will enable me to make meaningful contributions to research concerning childhood cancer in immigrant populations.  

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Marketa Dimitrov, MD

I am currently a fellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at the University of Minnesota, and I hope to pursue additional training in Bone Marrow Transplantation. I earned my medical degree at the Charles University Faculty of Medicine in Prague, Czech Republic and completed my Pediatrics Residency at the University of Minnesota. I am interested in bone marrow failure syndromes, immunodeficiencies and immune dysregulation, as well as immunotherapy and cellular therapy in practice. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jen Poynter, I will be researching germline susceptibility variants for pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome.