Graduate Medical Education (GME): Surgery Branch/Cancer Immunotherapy

Fellowship Program Director: Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Director: Mei Li M. Kwong, M.D.

The Surgery Branch/Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) trains surgeons who are committed to academic careers in the expanding field of surgical oncology with an interest in translational cancer immunotherapy. The two or three year program is designed to provide a comprehensive basic science, clinical immunotherapy, and surgical oncology clinical experience. The laboratory experience is immersive with a commitment to bench-to-bedside discovery within an active early-phase clinical research program of cellular immunotherapy. Faculty mentors guide a program of continuous clinical and scientific development commensurate with each fellow's experience, allowing each fellow the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to a rapidly growing field of study. The clinical immunotherapy experience focuses on the intricacies of patient care and human subjects research within the bench-to-bedside model of the Surgery Branch. Time on the surgical clinical service with the Surgical Oncology Program is characterized by exposure to a broad range of complex pathology and emphasizes the multidisciplinary care of patients with cancer. Over the course of the fellowship, trainees will hone their skills of critical inquiry, increase their scientific literacy, and lay the foundation for future specialty training and academic practice with first-hand experience in the conduct of clinical, translational, and laboratory research.

Program Structure
Each fellow spends 4-6 months operating on the clinical rotations of the Surgical Oncology Research Fellowship. Time is evenly split among the Surgical Oncology, Endocrine Surgery, and Thoracic Surgery services. Fellows provide clinical care for patients enrolled on various clinical research protocols, both from within the Surgical Oncology Program and from across the NIH. The clinical management of patients at the NIH provides exposure to rare oncologic and endocrine pathology as well as more complex and advanced cases of common cancers, often in the context of early phase investigational trials.

During the remainder of the two or three year program, fellows participate in an immersive clinical and laboratory experience in translational immunotherapy. Fellows will be introduced to the complex clinical care of patients on early-phase research protocols within the Surgery Branch, a world-renowned center for immunotherapy. This dedicated time is also coupled with an introduction to the basic science involved in the development of cellular therapy, during which time each fellow will be paired with a faculty mentor for ongoing laboratory research. Each fellow will serve four months as the primary in-patient resident physician for the Immunotherapy team with the remaining time dedicated to laboratory research.

In the optional third year, fellows continue scientific projects developed during the first two years and/or developing new projects inspired by clinical experiences. Fellows committing in advance to the three year program of training are eligible for the generous NIH Loan Repayment Program.

The ultimate goal of the research experience is to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of immunotherapy. Personal goals necessary for that achievement include an understanding of the experimental scientific method, knowledge of the scientific literature, and ability to formulate and test hypotheses. Each fellow should develop facility with various laboratory techniques and demonstrate steady progression toward independent investigative work. The fellows work directly with principal investigators and regularly present their research to members of the laboratory and the wider Surgical Oncology Program. Presentation at national scientific meetings is encouraged.

Throughout the fellows' time at the NCI, they will participate in the didactic program of the Surgical Oncology Research Fellowship. Additional educational opportunities include weekly immunotherapy laboratory seminars, clinical research planning conferences, scientific journal clubs, and a faculty-mentored immunotherapy journal club. The NCI, the Clinical Center, and the greater NIH community offer each fellow the opportunity to fully immerse into the scientific experience outside the rigors of a categorical surgical residency, a once-in-a-career training opportunity to explore the role of the surgeon-scientist in modern oncology.

For more information, please visit the Surgery Branch/Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fellowship website.

Application Information
Apply to this program through the NIH Graduate Medical Education Application System.

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This page last updated on 11/07/2022

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