UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Head and Neck Cancer SPORE

Career Development Program (CDP)

Theresa Whiteside, PhD, Co-Director
Jennifer Grandis, MD, FACS, Co-Director
Jonas T. Johnson, MD, Co-Director

The mission of the Career Development Program (CDP) is to stimulate basic, translational and clinical research in head and neck cancer by recruiting new and/or established investigators to the field. The CDP within the SPORE provides financial support for this mission while the scientific and clinical programs of the SPORE provide a stimulating mentoring environment.

The Specific Aims of the CDP are to:
Aim 1: Identify, recruit, and fund promising investigators who are new to the field of head and neck cancer, particularly investigators who are newly independent;
Aim 2: Mentor these investigators in the field of translational head and neck cancer research and, in the case of new investigators, in the skills needed to be a successful independent investigator; and
Aim 3: Assist these investigators in applying for head and neck cancer-related funding and in developing future projects within the Head and Neck SPORE mechanism.

The faculty within the SPORE includes a multidisciplinary roster of basic scientists and clinicians, all with a long-standing record in mentoring postdoctoral fellows, young scientists and research-oriented clinicians for careers in translational research. The CDP processes used in the previous SPORE grant period, which had a successful track record, will be continued to carry out the CDP aims. We will continue to solicit proposals annually from promising young investigators who are interested in translational head and neck cancer research and to use a peer-reviewed scoring system to prioritize proposals for funding. The CDP co-Directors, Executive Committee, and Internal (IAB) and External Advisory Board (EAB) members participate in the review process, together with the Patient Advocates and additional experts who may be called upon if special reviewer expertise is necessary. The CDP will track progress of the successful applications and provide advisors to funded investigators to ensure that they obtain any needed services from the SPORE Cores, and that they are integrated into the SPORE program. Awardees present their research results to the SPORE investigators after one year of support to be eligible for a second year of support. Progress toward translation as well as impact and innovation will determine whether CDP projects are found to merit promotion to full SPORE projects. Awardees will also be advised as appropriate in the preparation of grant applications for funding outside the SPORE mechanism and given access to Core resources to aid in this endeavor.