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KU Cancer Center receives $2.4 million grant to foster the next generation of translational scientists

Dr. Ronald Chen

October 23, 2023

Translational research bridges the gap between basic research and its real-world application in clinical settings. The process involves interdisciplinary collaboration, substantial funding and often, years of effort. In order to grow and train future clinical and translational scientists, The University of Kansas Cancer Center has received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The NCI’s Paul Calabresi Career Development Award for Clinical Oncology K12 award is an institutional training grant that supports the training and career development of clinical and translational researchers. Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, chair of Radiation Oncology and associate director for health equity at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, will lead the program. He will be supported by Scott Weir, PharmD, PhD, associate director for translational research, and Lisa Harlan-Williams, PhD, assistant director for administration and education.

“This is the first K12 award The University of Kansas Cancer Center has ever received,” Dr. Chen said. “The grant will enable us to train cancer clinicians, such as nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and medical physicists, to conduct research."

K awardees are more likely than non-awardees to receive subsequent NIH and NCI research funding, according to a study published in the Journal of Cancer Education. On average, awardees publish more research than non-awardees.

Participants will be able to tap into the expertise of nearly 50 experts in translational research and clinical trials, as well as patient research advocates. They will also have access to the University of Kansas Medical Center’s nationally recognized proof-of-concept center and product development arm, the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI), which is led by Dr. Weir. As part of the K12 training program, trainees will learn how to conceptualize and conduct their own investigator-initiated clinical trials.

“Trainees will be empowered to take their own ideas and develop a clinical trial, with the support of national leaders in translational research,” Dr. Chen said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for them to grow their careers while advancing the cancer treatment landscape.” 

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