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UICC World Cancer Congress 2006
Bridging the Gap: Transforming Knowledge into Action
July 8-12, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Advances in molecular medicine offer enormous potential to deliver effective therapies that target specific characteristics of a patient's tumor. Understanding cancer at a molecular level is complex, and effective collaboration among scientists, researchers, and clinicians is vital to achieving these advancements. To ensure that healthcare providers of today and tomorrow are able to transform their knowledge into action, education and career development curricula must be designed in anticipation of the future while still addressing the needs of today.
In 2004, an ESMO/ASCO Task Force published recommendations for a global core curriculum in medical oncology. These recommendations propose that the standard requirements for training in medical oncology include 3-4 years of training beyond internal medicine. The program should include 2 years of full-time clinical work covering the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of neoplastic diseases. In addition, research experience of at least one year is recommended for those planning to pursue an academic career.
During training, clinical researchers must be advised and supervised by qualified faculty members in the conduct of scientifically valid research that meets current ethical, legal, and regulatory standards. Researchers must also develop the skill of grant writing, and be well-versed in the available options for research funding.
The program should incorporate thorough training in the design and interpretation of research studies, statistical methodology, and interpretation of data. There should also be a focus on the importance of human rights protections in the conduct of research, which includes an understanding of the purpose and function of an Institutional Review Board and the informed consent process. In addition, the program must prepare clinical researchers regarding the current drug development and approval process.
Clinical researchers will also need to master the art of managing patient care. Thorough knowledge about established and evolving science, assimilation of a large body of scientific data, and appropriate application of this information to patient care are essential. Clinicians must also develop interpersonal and communication skills during their training, which ensure their ability to effectively exchange information with both patients and colleagues.
Ideally, clinical researchers should be trained in an environment of inquiry and scholarship. This environment should provide a mentored research experience and adequate protected time to participate in research activities, while also providing the essential clinical experience.
The field of cancer research will best serve the global community by creating a workforce prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.