Notice to Stakeholders

Cancer Biology Graduate Program (CBGP) - Academic Year 2015-2016 Report to Stakeholders


Dear CBGP Students and Supporters,

The mission of our program is to provide an outstanding training experience in the rapidly evolving field of cancer research leading to the PhD in Cancer Biology. The philosophy behind our PhD training program in Cancer Biology is that to train the next generation of cancer biologists requires a strong interdisciplinary graduate curriculum with a major focus on the biology of cancer, and regular interactions with basic, translational and population scientists engaged in cancer research, and with clinicians engaged in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our goal is to develop scientists with outstanding capacities for critical scientific thinking and effective communication skills needed to perform original research as independent cancer investigators in the coming decades.

In order to continually assess our program and thereby ensure that we are providing the best possible education for our students, through evaluation and action where needed, we have articulated the following learning outcomes for the program:

  1. To generate and defend a significant body of original research in cancer biology.

Assessments are based on: (i) completion of a dissertation based on original laboratory or population based research; (ii) successful defense of the dissertation research in public and closed door forums; and (iii) publication of at least one first author publication based on the dissertation research.

  1. To master cancer biology in relation to an area of specialization.

Assessments are based on performance in didactic courses, qualifying examinations, and dissertation committee meetings.

  1. To conduct original scholarly research in cancer biology in an ethical manner.

Assessments are based on satisfactory completion of University-wide training (GS0900 titled: "Essential Research Practices: Responsible Conduct of Research") and departmental level training, and satisfactory performance in research progress, which includes evidence of ethical standard in the conduct of research during bi-annual dissertation committee meetings.

  1. To relate the cancer biology discipline to the clinical experience of cancer patients.

Assessments are based on full attendance at and satisfactory completion of the clinical rotation (CB7130, Clinical Aspects of Cancer Biology), and completion of a reflective essay on "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," by Siddhartha Mukherjee.


Assessment for Outcome #1

In the 2015-16 academic year, 4 PhD students wrote and successfully defended dissertations on their original research. In addition, 40 papers were published with graduate students as authors during the 2015 and 2016 calendar years, with 22 being first author. This high productivity indicates that the students in general are satisfying this learning outcome and exhibiting proficiency in conducting original research.

Assessment for Outcome #2

All Cancer Biology students passed their didactic courses (≥ B). In addition, all 4 first year students passed the written qualifying exam, and all other students presented their specialized research activities at dissertation committee meetings. These results indicate that the students are successfully progressing in their areas of specialization in cancer biology.

Assessment for Outcome #3

New students were exposed to a new initiative at Wayne State wherein the Graduate School provides University-wide ethical training in a one day course. All 4 first year students satisfied this requirement. In addition, they attended a departmental lecture on "Rigor and Reproducibility in Cancer Research", presented by Dr. Mary Zhang. Other students presented their research at dissertation committee meetings, which is a forum for all aspects of science, including ethics. These various mechanisms provide confidence that Cancer Biology students are acting responsibly in their pursuit of scientific research and education.

Assessment for Outcome #4

The capacity to relate research to human health is an important aspect of CBGP training. All 4 first year students successfully completed the clinical rotation at the Karmanos Cancer Hospital, during which they were given first-hand experience of clinician-patient interactions. In addition, these students all wrote reflective essays on "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," by Siddhartha Mukherjee, indicating their recognition of the clinical relevance of their chosen career paths.


Steering Committee
Cancer Biology Graduate Program