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Waltz Laboratory

National Cancer Institute T32 Training Program in Cancer Therapeutics

Program Summary

The opportunities for new and targeted approaches to cancer treatment are growing at an exponential pace. However, to effectively harness these opportunities requires a pool of researchers who can bridge the divide between the lab-based identification of new therapeutic approaches and the actual clinical needs and practicalities of patient care. Currently the pool of individuals with such background and skills is limited. The Pathways to Cancer Therapeutics Training Program seeks to address this shortfall by increasing the diversity and number of individuals with a strong training in the areas of cancer biology that underlie identification of new therapeutic approaches, who also have a true understanding of the challenges and needs associated with translating scientific discovery into the clinic. The Training Program has two key goals: The first goal is to provide trainees with a rigorous and applied understanding of how basic research in cancer biology can be utilized to identify new drug targets and more effective therapeutic strategies. The second goal is to provide trainees with an understanding of the challenges in employing cancer therapeutics in the clinic.  The training focuses on three areas that are key to development of new therapeutic approaches and are areas of institutional strength in cancer therapy: cancer metabolism, tumor immunology and host microenvironment, and translational cancer therapy.  A series of multidisciplinary activities are proposed to achieve the goals of the Program. (1) Trainees participate in a mentored research project under the direction of one of 29 faculty mentors who come from 10 basic science and clinical departments across the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center (CCHMC). The faculty research mentors have active, well-funded research programs and extensive mentoring experience. (2) Trainees receive formal training that includes didactic coursework, seminar attendance, ethics training and career development activities. The specialized classes lead to a Graduate Certificate in Clinical and Translational Research. (3) Trainees participate in activities in clinical oncology. Each trainee is paired with a clinical co-mentor who is an MD with expertise related to the trainee’s research area. The clinical co-mentor participates in the development of the trainee’s research project and career plan. In addition, trainees attend Tumor Boards/Grand Rounds and participate in clinical shadowing experiences with their co-mentor. The Training Program is administered by Multi-Principal Investigators (Drs Susan Waltz and Vinita Takiar) with support from business offices within UC/CCHMC. Three administrative committees provide program evaluation and oversight, support a rigorous trainee selection process, ensure excellence in training, monitor trainee progress and ascertain that trainees represent an ethnically and scientifically diverse group. There is a strong institutional commitment to the Training Program in the form of direct financial support, trainee benefits and administrative support. Institutional programs and Training Program mentors and trainees are actively involved in recruitment of underrepresented groups. The Training Program has support from the NIH for 3 postdoctoral and 5 predoctoral trainees. 

Program Goal:

The purpose of The Training Program in Cancer Therapeutics is to provide predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists training and mentorship on the action of therapeutic agents for use in the treatment of cancer. The training program will place emphasis on translating basic scientific discoveries into improved patient care and will incorporate mentors with expertise in the clinical and basic aspects of the use of therapeutic modalities.

Current Trainees:
  • Paul Deford, PhD
  • Andrew Harley, PhD
  • Karmela Ramos-Gertz, PhD
  • Megan Bischoff
  • James Davis
  • Angelle Jones
  • Kiana Kawarizadeh
  • Julianna Korns
Past Trainees and Current Positions:
NameYearCurrent Positions
Josh Bennett, PhD2021M3- University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine
Emily Duderstadt, PhD2021Scientist, P&G
Kyle Ferchen, PhD2020Post-Doctoral Fellow-Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Daniel Hall, PhD2019Temporary Caretaker
Jennifer Bourn, PhD2019Senior Scientist PPD- Richmond Bioanalytical Laboratory
Leah Kershner, PhD2018Clinical Trial Manager, Medpace, Inc
Christina Wicker, PhD2018Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati
Kalen Berry, PhD2018Lead Scientist, RNA Nanotherapeutics, P&G, Division of Digital Innovation
Chanel Alford2017

Clinical and Translational Research Assistant

Megan Johnstone, PhD2017Clinical Trial Project Manager, University of Cincinnati 
Gregory Bick, PhD2017Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati
Camille Sullivan, PhD2016

Orthopedic surgical residency and Research Fellowship University of California, San Francisco

Collin Wetzel, PhD2016Senior Research Scientist, Nikko Danko Avecia
Kristof Nolan, PhD2016Research Scholar, University of Chicago
Hannah Newton, PhD2015

Scientist I, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

Megha Desai, PhD2015Senior Review Analyst, GeneDX
Allie K. Adams-Varmer, PhD2015Clinical Trials Manager, Medpace, Inc
Abby L. Johnson, PhD2015Senior Medical Writer, St. Augustine, FL ICON plc
Madeline Niderkorn, PhD2014

Postdoctoral Fellow, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Chrystelle Vilfranc, PhD2014

Postdoctoral Fellowship Columbia University

Shih-Jui Hsu, PhD2014Clinical Genomic Scientist, Invitae
Shailaja Hedge, PhD2014Research Scientist, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Mitchell Springer, PhD2013Clinical Variant Scientist, Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin
Brian Morrison, PhD2013Immunology Division Director
Sasha J. Ruiz-Torres, PhD2012

Independent Research Consultant

Nicholas Brown, PhD2012

Principal Scientist, Eli Lilly And Company

Anne-Marie C. Overstreet, PhD2012Research Associate, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Nancy Benight, PhD2012Analytical Chemist, Medpace, Inc
Preeti Tandon, PhD2012Manager, Medical Writing Medpace, Inc
Timothy M. Chlon, PhD2012Assistant Professor, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Purnima Wagh, PhD2012Research Associate Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Nassif Tabaja, PhD2011

Senior Clinical Research Associate, IQVIA

Shailaja Akunuru, PhD2011Clinical Trial Manager, Medpace, Inc
Christopher G. Kasbek, PhD2011Head of Research & Development, Eurofing DNA Diagnostic Ctr.
Leesa L. Sampson, PhD2011Senior Staff Scientist, Vanderbilt University
Dana C. Borcherding, PhD2010Senior Scientist, Iowa State University
Dana A. Smith, PhD2009

Professor, University of Florida

Brian M. Wiczer, PhD2009Product Technical Support Leader, Abbott Research Corporation
Aaron M. Marshall, PhD2009Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati
Jason Stewart, PhD2009Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences University of South Carolina
Juozas Vasiliauskas, PhD2008

Diagnostic Research Scientist, Amazon DX

Kevin Link, PhD2007Clinical Trial Manager, Medpace, Inc
Yuxin Feng, PhD2006Associate Professor, Tianjin University
Sang Jun Lee, PhD2007Staff Scientist, Nitto Americas
Nikolaos M. Nikolaidis, PhD2007Clinical Trial Leader, Ethicon
Emily E. Bosco, PhD2007Director, Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals,Lp
James D. Phelan, PhD2006

Staff Scientist, National Cancer Institute-Frederick

William H. Baird, PhD2006

Biological Research Scientist, Miami University

Christopher R. La Pensee, PhD2006Research Investigator, University of Michigan
Debra A. Mayes, PhD2006Assistant Professor, Wright State University
Seetha V. Sirinivasan, PhD2005

Website Manager/Lecturer/Consultant, Columbia University Health Sciences

Benjamin R. Linger, PhD2005Associate Professor, Indiana Wesleyan University
Lisa M. Morey, PhD2005Associate Professor, Canisius College
Clay E. Comstock, PhD2003Faculty, Salish Kootenai College


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Department of
Cancer Biology

Vontz Center for Molecular Studies
3125 Eden Avenue
PO Box 670521
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0521

Mail Location: 0521
Phone: 513-558-5323
Fax: 513-558-1190