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Core Curriculum

All fellows participate in the CCEP's core curriculum that combines five required courses, additional coursework as appropriate, and professional development/other activities. Fellows take four content courses and one professional development course. Content courses provide fellows with a basic understanding and the common language of the wide range of disciplines (from basic to behavioral science) that contribute to effective cancer prevention and control. The professional development course promotes grant writing skills.

Content Courses

All fellows take a survey course in the fundamentals of cancer prevention and control (HPM/HBHE 765/EPID 772). All fellows also take three other content courses (or their equivalents), ranging from basic science to behavioral theory. Suggested courses include:

  • Cancer Pathobiology (PATH 725), or Diet and Cancer (EPID/NUTR 815) or Cancer Epidemiology and Pathogenesis (EPID 770) or Seminar in Carcinogenesis (PATH 792).
  • Cancer Epidemiology Methods (EPID 771) or Advanced Cancer Epidemiology (EPID 775).
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health -- Theory and Methods (HB 730) or Social Psychological Theories of Individual Health Behavior (HB 800).

Choice in required content courses provides flexibility to match fellows' backgrounds, interests, and schedules. At the same time, the courses assure that fellows receive training in the basic tenets and vocabulary of at least three major perspectives -- basic science/carcinogenesis; epidemiology; and behavioral science.

Professional Development – Grant Writing

Fellows must take a course in grant writing. Postdoctoral fellows take NUTR 880, a grant writing seminar directed by Drs. Steven Zeisel and Barry Popkin. Predoctoral fellows may take NUTR 880 or grant and proposal writing seminars offered by their home departments, such as EPID 726. Postdoctoral fellows, with an interest in a specific department, may opt to take the equivalent grant writing seminar in that department rather than NUTR 880.

Other Courses

Fellows take, as needed, other courses to develop mastery of a content area, additional collaborative capabilities, and/or competency in research methods. For postdoctoral fellows, the Training Advisory Committee, in collaboration with the preceptor teams and the fellows, identify the need and/or desire for specific coursework.

Predoctoral fellows take coursework in research methods as part of their doctoral programs. Postdoctoral fellows take research methods coursework as individual needs dictate. Options for formal training, especially for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals include: the Public Health Leadership Program (PHL) and its Health Care and Prevention MPH program; and the Translational and Clinical Research Curriculum, a core curriculum that includes a two-year seminar series/for-credit course (EPID 896, Miller) focused on advanced research methods and case studies in conducting clinical research.

In addition to formal University-based coursework, fellows are encouraged to take short courses either on- or off-campus to enhance content and methods expertise. Off-campus programs include such opportunities as the summer cancer prevention core curriculum sponsored by the NCI's Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program and the new investigator workshops sponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology. On-campus programs include an array of methods short courses through various departments and centers, such as those offered Odum Institute for Research in Social Sciences.

In addition the curriculum incorporates integrative/professional development activities, including a journal club, seminars, workshops, and other specialized activities.

Professional Development/Other Activities

  • Mock Grant Review. 

    Before completing their CCEP experience, postdoctoral fellows must participate in a formal mock grant review.  The purpose of the review is to promote grant writing experience and expertise and to create a viable grant application that the fellows can adapt and use immediately in their next position. 

    The review will take place in the fellow’s final year of training, generally the third year.  By the end of their second year and in consultation with their mentors, each fellow will identify a topic for an R21 NCI grant application.  The CCEP has chosen the R21 because it can be submitted independently, adapted for use in a K award application, and/or enhanced and submitted post K award.   Following standard NIH protocols, the reviewers will read the grant application, prepare an initial written critique, and submit a preliminary score. 

  • Works In-Progress Meetings. During the spring semester, all fellows attend a bi-weekly fellows meeting to present on work in progress. As needed, during the spring the schedule is altered to allow fellows to preview posters/presentations for upcoming professional meetings and dissertation defenses.

  • Special Seminars and Meetings The CCEP and the Cancer Center also sponsor or co-sponsor special seminars or small group meetings featuring cancer prevention and control researchers. These Visiting Scholars are nationally recognized leaders in cancer prevention and control research. In addition to presenting a seminar and visiting with faculty mentors, these Visiting Scholars meet with the CCEP fellows as a group (usually at lunch). Fellows also attend seminars of interest organized by other campus groups or at nearby universities. Fellows are also encouraged to attend several of the weekly multidisciplinary clinical conferences at the NC Cancer Hospital. Current weekly conferences include breast, lung, and GI cancer, as well as melanoma and hematologic diseases.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research During their first year of support, fellows take a week-long, summer short-course in "The Responsible Conduct of Research." Organized by Dr. David Weber and sponsored by several UNC-CH departments and centers, the course covers: Misconduct in Scientific Research; Conflicts of Interest; Ethical Use of Humans in Research; Ethical Use of Animals in Research; Responsible Authorship; Managing Scientific Data; and Patenting Biologic Material. Fellows must also complete their certification of training in the use of human subjects.