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The ITCMS program offers a wide variety of training opportunities to enhance the postdoctoral experience for all trainees. Please see below for a list of program requirements and links to further information.

LCCC-Wide Activities

This series consists of a weekly seminar during the academic year. Speakers are well known and come mainly from outside UNC. Many speakers are invited because they represent new research areas and thus help to keep the trainees up to date with current research trends. ITCMS fellows are expected to attend all seminars, to broaden their base of knowledge and obtain new ideas, especially from outside their immediate research area. Prospective LCCC faculty recruits also present their ‘job talks’ in this series, giving our trainees the opportunity to experience this important aspect of interviewing for academic research positions. Another important aspect of this seminar series is that ITCMS trainees have the opportunity to have a trainee-only lunch with the seminar speaker, to gain both career and research advice from successful scientists in a more personal and informal setting. Finally, as requested by ITCMS trainees during a meeting with the Director in 2019, in the next support period a new feature for this seminar series will be an ITCMS trainee selected seminar speaker. Program trainees will host the speaker’s visit and interact with the speaker through a trainee-hosted dinner.
This event spotlights ongoing LCCC basic, translational and clinical cancer research. The program includes a State-of-the-Cancer Center presentation by the LCCC Director and a scientific poster session open to all LCCC trainees. The program’s theme for 2019 was Community Outreach and Engagement, with a focus on how identifying and responding to North Carolina priorities benefits research across the LCCC (
The LCCC Symposium is the oldest and largest established scientific symposium hosted in the Research Triangle, an NC region anchored by UNC, Duke, and North Carolina State University that includes the Research Triangle Park, home to numerous tech companies and enterprises. Held at UNC’s off-campus William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center, the Symposium is open to the greater Research Triangle community. Attendance is free and annually attracts over 400 attendees. Since 1975, the LCCC has brought 10 to 12 of the most distinguished scientists in the cancer research field to Chapel Hill each year to participate in these educational symposia. The symposia have been exceptionally successful and well attended and receive high marks from the presenters and attendees both for content and design. Fellows participate in this symposium: they are introduced to speakers where they can talk directly to leading scientists in the field in a relaxed, uncrowded situation. These contacts have proven their value to the fellows by providing research ideas, critiques, collaborations, and job possibilities. Organized by ITCMS preceptor Albert Baldwin, the specific themes selected are rotated among the LCCC Basic Science and Clinical Programs. LCCC faculty whose research is in that topic area serves as the organizing committee to select the outside speakers for the symposium.

ITCMS-directed Activities

Trainees need the opportunity to present their work to their peers coherently and intelligently. Instruction in, and mastery of, skills in effective oral presentation of data are as important as laboratory skills because of the integration and self-critique of data and the reasoning required. Such presentations are critical for success regardless of how one’s scientific training is applied. These in-house research seminars are organized by the Associate Director together with the Program Coordinator, where two trainees present 25-minute talks followed by 5-minute discussions. This series gives each trainee an opportunity to present his or her work, both in progress and when nearing completion, to an audience of their fellow postdoctoral fellows, LCCC faculty, graduate students, and research staff. The series also provides interdisciplinary networking among the trainees and other LCCC fellows. Since ITCMS-supported trainees continue to be a part of the program during their entire duration of postdoctoral training at the LCCC, they continue to participate in this seminar series. During the past year, due to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings, the format changed to virtual 30-minute presentations by a single trainee. While this format has retained the lively discussions characteristic of the in-person seminars, we plan to transition back to in-person seminars when it is appropriate.
This half-day event was established specifically in response to reviewer concerns, that the Program “provides career guidance for a full range of career options, including industry”. It was designed specifically to facilitate trainee career development, in particular for non-academic research career paths. The NCI has stressed that academic research positions will not be an option for a majority of postdoctoral fellows ( The recognition that PhD-trained researchers now have many non-academic career options provides the rationale for this symposium ( From formal surveying of ITCMS trainees, the career positions of the highest interest are used to guide the choice of speakers for the symposium. The Director and Associate Director provide speaker recommendations to the Postdoctoral Fellows Committee, who make the final recommendations and invited the selected speakers. Begun in 2017, each symposium has involved three outside invited speakers, and the event is open to all LCCC predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The evening prior to the symposium, members of the PFC have dinner with the speakers. On the day of the symposium, the speakers spend the morning with individual ITCMS faculty. The event begins with lunch for all ITCMS trainees. The formal session involves a 30-minute presentation by each speaker, followed by a panel Q & A session with all three speakers. The event ends with each speaker in separate rooms holding informal discussions, with ITCMS trainees given the choice of which speaker they would like to meet. In 2020, due to COVID-19, the format changed to a three-week one-hour virtual presentation series with one speaker each week, where the speaker presented a 30-minute talk followed by a 30-minute Q&A session moderated by the Associate Director.

ITCMS Director’s Career Symposium
2020 (Virtual)
Lola Rahib, PhD Director, Scientific and Clinical Affairs at Cancer Commons Foundation research (previously data researcher at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network)
Steven D. Cappell, PhD Stadtman Investigator, NCI Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics NCI intramural researcher (former UNC PhD trainee)
Roman Camarda, PhD Analyst, Aquilo Capital Management LLC Investments in the biotechnology sector
Christine Ardito-Abraham, PhD Research Medical Liaison, Amgen Medical liaison
Harmony Turk, PhD Senior Editor, Cancer Cell Scientific research journal peer review editor
Dominico Vigil, PhD Principal Scientist, Halda Therapeutics Biotech (former ITCMS trainee)
Cindy Benod, PhD Biophysicist, Warp Drive Bio Biotechnology
Dave Kashatus, PhD Associate Professor, University of Virginia Tenure-track academic research (former UNC PhD trainee)
Anna Sadusky, PhD Director, Regulatory Science, and Policy, American Association for Cancer Research Science policy
Ana Batista, PhD Editor, Trends in Cancer Scientific review-journal editor
Kevin Healy, PhD Senior Director, Roivant Sciences Regulatory affairs (former ITCMS trainee)
Lesley Griner, PhD Investigator II, Novartis Research Institute Pharmaceutical industry
Each year, ITCMS sponsors this one-day event that serves as the annual research retreat for the Program, held at different off-campus locations (e.g., Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill). While the organization of this event has always been guided by the ITCMS trainees, two years ago, the trainees were given full leadership to organize this event. While hosted by ITCMS, this excellent event is open to all LCCC members, staff, and fellows at no cost. It is one of the major offerings of LCCC and continues to add to the trainees’ success. This retreat, like ITCMS now in its 45th year, is a particularly important networking activity of the Program, bringing fellows from all parts of the LCCC together with faculty preceptors in an informal scientific and social setting. The format for this event has varied from year-to-year as the Postdoctoral Fellows Committee has strived to keep the event fresh and to address the varying needs of ITCMS trainees. One regular feature involves short talk presentations by trainees that are selected by the PFC from submitted abstracts. The remaining abstracts are presented during a poster session. The format encourages informal discussion. The PFC also reaches out to ITCMS faculty to organize poster sessions judging for best posters, while the Steering Committee judges trainee presentations to recognize the best talks. Monetary awards for best posters and talks are announced at a social reception that ends the event.

An important feature of this event are presentations from former ITCMS trainees who have transitioned successfully to both academic research and non-academic careers. The PFC selects these alumni speakers from recommendations provided by the Steering Committee. We have found that our current trainees are motivated by seeing former trainees return to UNC to put into perspective how their postdoctoral training at the LCCC positively impacted their career development and success. Similarly, we have also found that former trainees feel quite honored to be recognized as role models for the current trainees. The speakers are asked to integrate descriptions of their personal career path decisions and outcomes into their presentations.

ITCMS-specific Workshops (biennial)

This workshop provides an overview of statistical topics that may be of particular interest to clinical researchers. Some common statistical concepts, such as power and sample size, along with some common errors, are explored. Participants are encouraged to present questions regarding their own research. Trainees are asked to choose experimental approaches used in their research that would require biostatistics (e,g., CRISPR screens, RNA-seq, mouse studies, etc.), and an overview of how to approach these datasets is discussed. Workshop leader: Dirk Dittmer. Occurs: Spring, Even Years
This workshop highlights the power of smaller eukaryotes (e.g., yeast and flies) to uncover basic principles of cell biology, and thus, how discoveries made in these organisms have led the way in our understanding of disease pathways. We also cover how model organisms have been a powerful tool for drug discovery. ITCMS fellows are encouraged to think about ways to implement model systems like these in their own research. Workshop leaders: Robert Duronio, Brian Strahl. Occurs: Summer, Odd years
This workshop focuses on the use of mice to model human cancer, discussing traditional xenograft studies, genetically engineered models, and patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDXs). Models of KRAS-driven cancer (pancreatic, lung); prostate cancer via the PTEN-deletion model; GEMM models of low- and high-grade GBM tumors, melanoma, and renal cancer, and PDX-derived tumors from pancreatic, breast, and bladder cancers are discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of each model are also presented. Workshop leaders: Albert Baldwin, Jen Jen Yeh, David Darr, William Kim
This program provides fellows with an opportunity to experience a close-up glimpse at cancer from the clinical perspective by observing, first-hand, the clinical management of oncology patients. Trainees are matched with appropriate faculty to shadow through a clinical case that best matches their research interests. This allows the fellows to not only gain a better understanding of the anatomical basis for their tumor study of choice (e.g., orthotopic versus subcutaneous tumors), but also the impact that their research may have on patients. Appropriate confidentiality forms are required in compliance with HIPAA regulations. The program is headed by ITCMS preceptor Jen Jen Yeh, MD, Professor, and Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of Surgery. Clinical faculty from several specialties participate in this program. Contact Jen Jen Yeh for further information

This workshop focuses on defining general aspects and approaches to drug discovery, the challenges and opportunities in academic drug discovery, and case histories of drug and probe discovery at UNC. It is led by ITCMS preceptor Stephen Frye, Director of the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He brings his experiences from his 20-year career with GlaxoSmithKline as worldwide Vice President for High Throughput and Discovery Medicinal Chemistry to convey the process of anti-cancer targeted therapeutics from ‘soup to nuts’. He uses the example of the development of MER tyrosine kinase inhibitor MRX-2843, one of the first compounds discovered at UNC, based on biological insights at UNC by Shelley Earp and colleagues, and currently under Phase I evaluation at the LCCC and NC Cancer Hospital. Workshop leader: Stephen Frye. Occurs: Spring, Odd years
This workshop provides peer and faculty input for fellows prior to their NCI F32 or K99/R00, or American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship submissions. In addition to receiving critical feedback on their applications, trainees are exposed to study section review protocols and expectations. Trainee grant applications are reviewed by fellows and by faculty preceptors with expertise in the particular topic and with study section experience. This workshop is provided up to three times a year to coincide with NCI/ACS fellowship deadlines. Faculty will work directly with ITCMS fellows on their preparation and submission of fellowship applications. Trainees provide their near-final research proposals for evaluation. Fellows are required to participate in the Mock Study sections, initially for their own grant reviews, and subsequently, as members of the study section reviewer panel. Workshop leader: Albert Baldwin. Occurs: as needed
This workshop is designed for LCCC Training Grant Fellows and covers necropsy techniques, best practices for good tissue sampling and fixation, and tips on immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescence analyses on animal models or cancer patient tissues. Basic histopathology is covered and participants can bring digital slides for analysis and discussion by a board-certified veterinary pathologist. The cake will be utilized as a learning tool then served for consumption by workshop participants! Workshop leader: Stephanie A. Montgomery, PhD, DVM (Faculty Director of the LCCC Animal Histopathology Core). Occurs: Summer, Even years
The LCCC has recently established a patient advocate board for different cancers which meets semi-annually. In order for ITCMS fellows to learn about issues relating to cancer patients and to learn to present their research to a lay audience with an interest in a particular disease, fellows will meet with patient advocates and present short talks regarding the relevance of their research to cancer broadly and related to specific types of cancer. This workshop provides the trainee the opportunity to develop the essential skill of conveying their own complex research concepts to the lay population. Workshop leader: Patty Spears, PhD, Research Manager, Patient Advocates for Research Council, Office of Clinical & Translational Research in Oncology, LCCC
This workshop covers the basic principles, experimental design, and data analysis platforms for protein mass spectrometry experiments. Discussion topics include highlights of several upstream biochemical approaches, an overview of peptide fractionation by liquid chromatography, and the inner workings of ion trap mass spectrometers, including principles of ion detection and fragmentation. Lastly, the basic guidelines for data analysis and interpretation are presented. Workshop leader: Lee Graves (Faculty Director, Michael Hooker Proteomics Core Facility. Occurs: Fall, Even years
Advancements in technology have led to a myriad of high dimensional genomic, genetic, and proteomic technologies now being applied to human tumors. Much of this data is now in public databases. This workshop focuses on how to find and use the data (TCGA, dbGaP, GEO, EGA, cBioPortal, among others), data access requirements, and how these rich resources can be used for trainees’ own translational research. We also touch on different molecular assays, types of analyses that can be performed, unsupervised approaches to cancer classification, and data integration. We use trainee specific research questions to access databases in real-time to show data and perform initial queries and analyses. This workshop will be led by Katherine Hoadley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics. She has over 18 years of experience in genomics, has been part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) since 2003, and is currently PI of the current TCGA research efforts with a focus on RNA expression analyses and data integration. Workshop leader: Katherine Hoadley. Occurs: Fall, Even Years

ITCMS-specific Research Study Groups (biennial)

RSG is a trainee-organized monthly meeting that features heavily on career development activities and led by the ITCMS Postdoctoral Committee. The current members are Evan Dewey, Danielle File, Jordan Koehn, and Philip Lange.

  • Trainees are expected to attend and participate in RSG
  • For the current RSG schedule please see our events page

Past RSG’s have included:

Career planning IDP
Careers in industry panel
Demystifying the grant submission process
How to give a chalk talk
How to peer review
Individual development plans
Interviewing workshop
Journal club
Medical writing
Non-academic career panel
Research careers at the NCI
Research careers in biotech
Research intensive lab experiences
Running a lab
Successful grant writing

Other Activities

Community Outreach, CABTRAC retreat; *Training in Responsible Conduct in Research will be integrated into all Workshops

Responsible Conduct of Research/Ethics Training

All trainees must complete the Research Ethics course through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, in their first grant year.