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Cancer Program | Curriculum

The overarching goal of this course is to present the current major concepts in cancer risk, etiology, detection, diagnosis, and treatment to provide course graduates with the knowledge and skills to begin or advance active participation in cancer research, to understand the principles in cancer treatment as it applies in their region, or to be ready to follow future developments in the rapidly changing field of cancer research.  The curriculum will be divided into 4 major components:

  1. The key fundamental features of cancers will be framed by exploring our developing understanding of the hallmarks of cancer, a central paradigm of cancer biology framed by Weinberg and Hanahan in their seminal reviews (Weinberg and Hanahan Cell 2000; Weinberg and Hanahan Cell 2010);
  2. Approximately 40 key concepts in cancer research and therapy development will be presented in depth but each will be framed within clinical disease examples;
  3. World leaders in cancer research will present live interactive seminars on important cutting edge subjects;
  4. A series of cross cutting exercises that feature active engagement in group learning activities will be used to allow deeper explorations in areas of personal interest for each participant.

Each teaching objective of this course will be based on current cancer research literature, and participants will actively follow major research “breaking stories” that occur in real time over the year that this course is taught.  Important historical moments of cancer discovery will be used to illustrate key principles of how our current views of cancer development and treatment have formed.  Participants will meet and interact with some of the leaders in modern cancer research and have time to establish lasting relationships with other similarly minded individuals from their home region and/or throughout the world.

The program will consist of approximately 60 pre-recorded online lectures (ROLs) made available 24/7 on a learning management web platform, approximately 10 live Go-To-Meeting webinars, and 11 days of face-to-face workshop training (3 in-person workshops: 1 in London and 2 in Boston).

Modes of Learning

Recorded Online Lectures (Sample List)

Module 1: Characteristic biology of tumors and cancer cells

Lecture 1: Cell Proliferation and cell cycle control
Lecture 2: Oncogenes and signal transduction
Lecture 3: Programmed cell death
Lecture 4: Mitochondria and metabolism
Lecture 5: Tumor microenvironment
The tumor environment: stroma, immune infiltration, angiogenesis
Lecture 6: Invasion and Metastasis (EMT)
Lecture 7: Protein homeostasis and autophagy
Lecture 8: Tumor heterogeneity and clonal evolution
Lecture 9: Non-coding RNAs and cancer


Module 2: Approaches to study cancer

Lecture 1: Cell lines, NCI 60, CCLE, and newly derived lines
Lecture 2: Human tumor models
Biopsy, samples, biobanks
PDX, organoids, derived cell lines
Xenographs as test grounds for drug development
Lecture 3: Zebrafish models of cancer
Lecture 4: Animal models: from mouse to man

Module 3: Carcinogenesis Topics

Lecture 1: Epidemiology and Cancer Risk Identification
Lecture 2: Environmental carcinogenesis
Lecture 3: Diet, Obesity, and Cancer
Lecture 4: Mutational signatures
Lecture 5: Expression profiles
Lecture 6: Epigenetics

Module 4: Childhood and Young Adult Solid Tumors

Lecture 1: Inherited Predisposition
Retinoblastoma, tumor suppressors and 2 hit hypothesis
Cancer families, genetic screening and counseling
Disease penetrance
Other childhood tumor examples as needed: Wilms Tumors, others
Lecture 2: p53 and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
Discovery and functions
Guardian of the genome
Lecture 3: Young Adult Cancers


Module 5: Drug Development & Therapy

Lecture 1: Drug development overview, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics
Lecture 2: Pre-Clinical Modeling on Route to Clinical Trials
Lecture 3: Clinical Trials: IRB; Phase I, II, and III; and gov oversight
Lecture 4: Surgical therapy: current strategies, challenges, and opportunities
Lecture 5: Radiation therapy: current strategies, challenges, and opportunities
Lecture 6: Development and use of cytotoxics
Lecture 7: Case study in Targeted Therapy: CML and Gleevec
Lecture 8: Small Molecule Discovery and Chemical Biology
Lecture 9: Case study in Biological Agent Targeted Therapy: Rituxan

Module 6: Leukemia and Lymphoma

Lecture 1: Introduction to Hematologic Malignancies
Lecture 2: Transplantation therapies and basic insights into Hematologic Disorders
Lecture 3: Saving children from leukemia; historical successes and emerging challenges
Lecture 4: Hematopoietic stem cells, leukemia initiating cells, and the leukemic “niche"
Lecture 5: The CML Story
Lecture 6: Pathogenesis of myeloid neoplasms (AML, MDS, PMPNs); role of genetics and clonal evolution
Lecture 7: Differentiation therapy in myeloid neoplasms
Lecture 8: ALL: pathogenesis and emerging targeted therapies
Lecture 9: Pathogenesis of CLL: role of genetics and clonal evolution
Lecture 10: Pathogenesis of B cell lymphomas (including Hodgkin Lymphoma): therapeutic opportunities
Lecture 11: Plasma cell neoplasms; historical lessons and therapeutic opportunities


Module 7: Colon Cancer

Lecture 1: Colon Cancer
Lecture 2: Colon cancer progression and tumor evolution
Vogelgram, history and lessons
Other useful tumor progression models (or lack thereof)
Lecture 3: Screening for colon cancer
Evolution of methodologies with consideration of what has worked and why
Trials to determine best practices
Lecture 4: Wnt signaling


Module 8: Breast Cancer

Lecture 1: Introduction to breast cancer: cellular and molecular heterogeneity
Lecture 2: Breast cancer: Clinical presentation and treatment
Lecture 3: Genetic predispositions to breast and ovarian cancer
BRCA1 and 2 discovery
PARP-based therapy
Lecture 4: Screening for breast cancer
Current methods
Lecture 5: Breast cancer triple negative
Evolution of classification systems
Expression arrays and genomics
Consequences of heterogeneity
Lecture 6: Her2-driven breast cancer
First therapeutic antibody
Adaptation to treatment and combinations
Brain mets
Lecture 7: Hormone-responsive breast cancer
Long-term adjuvant treatment
Lecture 8: Breast cancer metastasis and metastatic niches
Lecture 9: The changing epidemiology of breast cancer
Lecture 10: Disparities in breast cancer


Module 9: Melanoma

Lecture 1: Melanoma
Lecture 2: DNA damage and repair
UV and damaging radiation
DNA damage and repair
Public health solutions: successes and failures
Lecture 3: BRAF therapy
Raf pathway
Combination therapies
Lecture 4: Immunotherapy in melanoma