School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Cancer Biology Graduate Program renews 5-year, $1.2 million training grant from National Institutes of Health

Larry H. Matherly, Ph.D., is director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program.

Larry H. Matherly, Ph.D., is director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program.

The Department of Oncology’s Cancer Biology Graduate Program at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has renewed a five-year, $1,199,505 training grant (T32 CA009351) from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

The grant, also known as the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, supports six Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. graduate students involved in cancer research.

The competitive training grant has been used at WSU for 25 years, and will now expire in 2017, its 30th year.

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program has 31 students immersed in a curriculum that allows for original and critical thinking, with training by 19 faculty members who mentor the students and encourage a passion for scientific discovery in areas ranging from neoplastic development, and invasion and metastasis, to cancer therapy, prevention and cancer epidemiology. The program provides outstanding training experience in the evolving field of cancer research, using an interdisciplinary graduate curriculum that offers regular interactions with clinicians engaged in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The educational experience integrates extended cancer courses, seminars by local, nationally and internationally recognized speakers, student-faculty research retreats, national and international meetings, and specialized workshops and courses, ultimately culminating in a doctoral degree in Cancer Biology.

“We have an unusually committed group of faculty, staff, and students involved with the graduate program, combined with the outstanding laboratory and clinical resources of Karmanos. All this contributes to our sustained success,” said Larry H. Matherly, Ph.D., principal investigator and director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, professor of Oncology and Pharmacology, and program leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at the School of Medicine and KCI.

Students may apply to use the school’s T32 grant after their second year in the graduate program, and can also compete for a second year of support.

This latest grant will be used to support research for the following students:Aaron Burr, a thirdyear Cancer Biology Ph.D. candidate mentored by Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Sokol Todi, Ph.D.; Tim Caldwell, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate using the T32 for a secondyear and mentored by Professor of Pediatrics Jeffrey Taub, M.D.; Katelyn Powell, a third-year Cancer Biology Ph.D. candidate mentored by Assistant Professor of Urology Sreenivasa Chinni, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Tovar, a fourth-year Cancer Biology Ph.D. candidate using the grant for a second year and mentored by Distinguished Professor of Pathology Ken Honn, Ph.D.; Gina Zoratti, a third-year Cancer Biology Ph.D. candidate and mentored by Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Karin List, Ph.D; and Aimalie Hardaway, a fourth-year Cancer Biology Ph.D. candidate using the T32 for a second year and mentored by Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Izabela Podgorski, Ph.D. Hardaway will use her renewed T32 for six months  until she transitions to an F31 fellowship. The F31 is a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Award for individual predoctoral fellowships to promote diversity in health-related research.

“We encourage students supported by the T32 to submit individual F30 and F31 fellowships to the National Institutes of Health for support,” Dr. Matherly said.

When reviewed earlier this year, the renewal application received a “perfect” score of 10, an astounding accomplishment. “When I got the score of 10, I was in disbelief to the point of thinking it had to be a typo. It wasn't. It is unheard of in this challenging funding climate to get a perfect score on an NIH grant. Although I get the kudos for this, the score should be credited to the students, staff and faculty,” Dr. Matherly said.

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