Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
Research Training Plan
We are committed to the training of fellows who will become world-class researchers in clinical, translational or basic research. About 60 percent of our fellows choose to do laboratory research and 40 percent choose clinical investigation. We strongly support both pathways. Most fellows remain with the same research mentor until the fellow assumes independent faculty status (i.e., usually Assistant Professor) at Children's Hospital/Dana Farber Cancer Institute (or elsewhere). Although the NIH only allows a maximum of three years postdoctoral research support on NIH Training Grants (T32s), we have in the past and will continue to try and support fellows for as long as necessary for them to attain independence. This support is obtained through vigorous pursuit of competitive federal and nonfederal fellowships, supplemented by institutional resources.
At the beginning of the research training period, most fellows have completed a year of intensive clinical training in hematology/oncology. During that year, the fellow's stipend is derived from institutional funds. Once this year is completed, the fellow enters a nearly full time research training program supported by two institutional training grants (a total of 18 slots). The fellow's time is carefully protected to permit at least 80% time for research. Clinical work is limited to an average of one clinic day per week. A comprehensive program of cross coverage has been instituted to insure that, to the extent possible, a fellow's research work is not hampered by clinical responsibilities on days other than the assigned clinic day.
Selecting a Research Project
Fellows are asked to begin investigating research projects and mentors during the year before they begin their clinical fellowship and to narrow the search to a small number of possibilities by the time they begin fellowship. We provide listings of many laboratory and clinical researchers in the Boston area and ask the fellows to read about specific research areas and begin to identify potential mentors. In addition, during the fellows’ first year, senior faculty members present their research at the division seminar series and at the annual Fall retreat for which coverage is provided to allow attendance by first year fellows. In late fall, four evenings are set aside for “Data Blitz” in which up to 40 faculty present 5 minute “vignettes” of their research focus for the benefit of the first year fellows. To aid the selection process, fellows meet with selected faculty in the broad area of the fellow’s research interest. The meetings occur early in the first year. This process continues throughout the first half of the year, with the goal that all fellows will have secured a research position by January.
In addition to laboratories within pediatric hematology/oncology, during the past 42 years many fellows have trained in outstanding laboratories throughout the Boston area. Fellows are able to work with any of the thousands of experienced researchers in the Boston area, as long as the outside research sponsor is acceptable to an oversight committee composed of Drs. Williams, Orkin and Pellman (laboratory research) and Sallan (clinical research), Mack and Diller. The opportunities include clinical and laboratory researchers at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School of Government, the various Harvard hospitals (Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Whitehead Institute, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the McGovern Institute, the Picower Institute, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and researchers outside the pediatric hematology/oncology program at Children’s Hospital Boston or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. We view outside research experiences as particularly valuable since, if fellows rejoin the program as faculty, they bring new skills and areas of research.