The Tisch Cancer Institute

Training and Education

Cancer Research Career Enhancement and Related Activities Core

The overarching goal of the Tisch Cancer Institute’s Cancer Research Career Enhancement and Related Activities Core is to effectively nurture, inspire, and advance the career development of cancer-focused clinical and translational investigators.

In particular, we aspire to prepare a diverse biomedical and healthcare professional workforce, armed with methodological skills, analytical acumen, & scientific knowledge, to successfully address the unmet needs of our community. Our career development strategy is in keeping with the mission of TCI to advance translational cancer research to improve the lives of the community we serve. Our efforts are to diversify cancer research and the clinical cancer workforce to foster the development of future cancer leaders. In partnership with the Icahn School of Medicine (ISMMS)Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesOffice for Diversity and Inclusion, and Clinical Translational Science Award Program (CTSA)  we are uniquely positioned to launch and further advance the careers of emerging and established cancer research professionals. 

In 2014 the Center for Excellence in Youth Education (CEYE) launched the Lloyd Sherman Scholars Biotechnology program to address the underrepresentation of young men of color entering post-secondary and graduate degree programs in STEM.  The program maintains an exclusive partnership with Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics (MCSM), a neighboring East Harlem high school. The geographic proximity, senior administrative support, and academic portfolio of students have enabled the program to engage high-achieving high school male students of color with meaningful biomedical science research experiences. MCSM’s student demographics are largely reflective of the East Harlem Community and the target population of students we are aiming to serve, with a student body of 54.1% Hispanic, 20% African American, 19% Asian, 4.5% White, and 2.4% other. While MCSM offers an array of academically rigorous coursework and extracurricular activities, few students have access to hands-on biomedical research experiences.

In cooperation with the CEYE and the Patricia S. Levinson Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs (CMCA), and the Mount Sinai’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the TCI provides funding for two of 10 high school students selected to participate in the highly competitive Lloyd Sherman Scholars Program.  The program for the two students funded through TCI includes mentorship by TCI faculty in their research laboratories. Coursework early in the program (prior to laboratory placement) will soon incorporate curricular expansion in Cancer Biology and Cancer Medicine, designed to enhance the students’ research laboratory experience.

TCI members have also provided cancer research experiences for promising undergraduate URM students in the CEYE college-level Northeast Regional Alliance MedPrep Program (NERA).


Undergraduate Partnerships

TCI faculty mentor takes part in research activities sponsored by the GS and ISMMS specifically designed for undergraduate students, these include:

Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)  

Med PREP – Open to URM college students to develop key competencies needed for medical school

Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)

The TCI has developed unique programs for both medical and pre-doctoral graduate students with the intended goal of preparing the next generation of cancer-focused physician-investigators and translational basic scientists.

Scholars group shot

Summer Research Scholars

The TCI Medical Student Research Fellowship provides summer research stipends for medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to conduct original cancer research in clinical, translational, basic, epidemiological, or health services disciplines. The fellowships are for medical students completing their first year who have not yet had extensive research experience. The intent is that the students’ research, under the tutelage of a faculty member, will lead to a scholarly research year between the students’ third and fourth years, setting the foundation for a future career in cancer research. The student’s potential for a research career, including the pursuit of an extended research project, as well as the mentor’s enthusiasm to support the student in such an endeavor, are important components of the application for this fellowship award. 

Applications open in early winter and candidates are selected by early spring.

Clinical and Translational Cancer Researchers

The TCI has taken advantage of Mount Sinai’s Patient-Oriented Research Training and Leadership (PORTAL) program that offers talented medical students the chance to earn a dual MD and Masters of Science in Clinical Research within 5 years.

Medical Scientist Training Program 

The TCI has played a pivotal mentorship role in our NIH-funded (40 yrs.) MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Cancer Interest Group

The TCI Education Career and Development Committee (ECDC) has fostered a relationship with medical student interest groups.  Janice Gabrilove is the mentor for the Oncology Interest Group and Brett Miles (TCI Cancer Clinical Investigation Program) is the mentor for the Surgical Oncology Interest Group.  As mentors, these TCI members facilitate forums that expose students to cancer research opportunities and give them insight into cancer career avenues.  Through the ECDC, these interest groups are provided with update-to-date lists of potential TCI cancer research mentors, from which to consider cancer research opportunities.

Clinical encounter graphic

Cancer Biology Training Program

From 2012-2018, the Cancer Biology T32 pre-doctoral training program (T32CA078207), is currently in its 18th year of continuous funding.  In support of the training program, the TCI funds one additional training slot per year. In an effort to enhance exposure to trainees to aspects of cancer biology relevant to human disease, the TCI has initiated a Translational Oncology Seminar Series and an annual off-site cancer biology retreat.

Clinical Encounters Program for Cancer Biology

The TCI Clinical Encounter program is specifically designed for PhD students in the cancer biology training program to gain insight and motivation from interactions with patients; learn to communicate about their research in lay-friendly language, and gain a better understanding of clinical disease manifestations and treatment plans.  Students are matched with a clinician mentor, based on disease interest, observe a clinician-guided patient encounter, and participate in a faculty-facilitated post-encounter debriefing.  Educational objectives include an emphasis on the impact of recent scientific discovery on diagnosis, disease classification, and treatment; and identification of areas of unmet need related to biomarkers, diagnostics, therapeutics, and cancer incidence and mortality affecting our community.

Experiences are reflected in this video.

Translational Immunology T32 training Program

This recently awarded training program, Co-Led by TCI Member Sergio Lira, MD/PhD (Cancer Immunology) and Peter Heeger, MD, is designed for both pre-doctoral and postdoctoral trainees in the field of translational Immunology including cancer immunotherapeutics. Two of the first 4 students funded through this mechanism include:




Robbie Sweeney

Sasha Gnjatic

Cancer Immunology

Seihwan Jeong

James Ferrara

Cancer Immunology

Students in round table

Our postdoctoral education and training efforts have been tailored to advance the careers of talented basic, population and behavioral science cancer researchers as well as clinical fellows in training. Both NCI and TCI funded training efforts are in place. The Cancer Biology T32 as previously described (provide link), has nurtured the career advancement of 19 postdoctoral research fellows during the period from 2012-2018, resulting in 227 publications in high impact journals. The newly awarded T32 in Cancer Prevention & Control (CPC)  offers opportunities for behavioral, population-based and clinical scientists to develop in-depth knowledge and skills in health equity and disparities of care, with a focus on priority populations (elderly, low income, racial/ethnic minorities, multiple co-morbidities) including World Trade Center First Responders.  A recently awarded Translational Immunology Training Program T32 offers novel research opportunities including a focus on immunotherapeutics. In addition to NCI-funded training awards, the TCI funds a Basic and Clinical Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Liver Cancer that promotes focused research in liver cancer, a disease that disproportionately affects the East Harlem community within the TCI catchment.

Advancing MD Physician-Scientist Cancer Research Careers 

TCI is also home to 10 competitive ACGME/SSO-accredited clinical training programs including:

Additional specialized Non-ACGME fellowships include:

STTEP-UP for Research:  Sinai Team-based Translational Education Program: The URM Propeller

This program is designed to enable highly motivated under-represented minority (URM) trainees in residency, subspecialty fellowship training, or postdoctoral laboratory positions within our healthcare system to become innovative leaders and entrepreneurs in clinical and translational research (provide link).

 The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers our trainees a range of additional opportunities

Allied Health group shot

The TCI offers numerous research seminars, Disease-specific Focus Groups, and Tumor Boards. Examples include:

  • TCI Seminar Series
  • TCI Diversity Series
  • TCI Postdoctoral Seminars
  • TCI Frontiers in Oncology Seminar Series
  • Translational Oncology Seminar Series
  • Hematology and Medical Oncology Grand Rounds
  • Clinical Trials Science Meeting
  • Molecular Tumor Board

Please visit the Mount Sinai Health System Calendar for a list of most TCI events.


In addition to these educational forums, and access to graduate school courses and degree-granting programs the TCI offers:

To create a venue for cross-disciplinary and experiential team science education and entrepreneurship, the TCI has supported the Mount Sinai Health Hackathon to foster the development of new healthcare innovations. 

The ECDC committee provides a forum to harness the wealth of scientific and mentoring capabilities of the TCI faculty and positively impact and advance the research potential of promising students, as well as emerging cancer investigators.  The committee is charged with identifying important gaps in knowledge of the broader TCI research community in regard to specific malignant disease pathogenesis and disparities related to our community and to develop novel curricular activities to address these needs.

Three ECDC subcommittees provide strategic guidance and recommendations concerning specific constituents within the community of TCI trainees, and inform the mission, policies, program development, and targeted investments of the ECDC.


Nina Bickell, MD, MPH

James Ferrara, MD

Janice Gabrilove, MD

Doris Germain, PhD

Lisa Gaynes

Jenny Lin, MD, MPH

Brett Miles, DDS, MD

Umut Ozbeck, PhD

Richard Bakst, MD

Eileen Scigliano, MD

Alison Snow, PhD, MSW

Augusto Villanueva, PhD

Karen Wilson, MD, MPH

The ECDC Subcommittee on Diversity provides recommendations to best advocate for and foster the recruitment and retention of talented, underrepresented minority cancer researchers and promote evidence-based knowledge about cancer disparities among TCI investigators. The committee is charged with:

  • Championing a diverse cancer research biomedical workforce, reflecting the ethnic and racial demographics of our community
  • Partnering with and leveraging institutional efforts and expertise specifically designed to diversify the cancer research biomedical workforce
  • Collaborating with Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) and the Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC) Institutional National Research Service Award (T32) to educate cancer researchers about the impact of race and ethnicity as relevant variables in malignant disease and disparities of care
  • Advancing recruitment and retention of talented underrepresented minority (URM) investigators through exposure to accomplished role models in cancer research
  • Operating the TCI Diversity Seminar Series focused on health disparities and research


Brian Brown, PhD

Jerry Chipuk, PhD

Janice Gabrilove, MD

Cathie Pfleger, PhD

Cardinale Smith, MD, PhD


The ECDC subcommittee on Cancer Biology PhD candidates in Biomedical Science facilitates the delineation of needed educational enhancement activities to further advance career development of Cancer Biology PhD candidates. The ECDC Research Advisory Subcommittee charged with advancing career development of physician scientist cancer researchers.

Stuart Aaronson, MD
Doris Germain, PhD
James Manfredi, PhD
Matthew O’Connell, PhD