There is a critical need for researchers dedicated to making improvements in the molecular understanding and treatment of brain tumors to overcome the challenge of therapeutic resistance and better treat these devastating diseases. To accomplish this goal, UAB has developed an innovative Training Program in Brain Tumor Biology under the leadership of Drs. Benveniste, Hjelmeland, and Nabors.  

The multidisciplinary UAB Training Program in Brain Tumor Biology trains highly motivated Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students in the fields of fundamental and translational brain tumor biology. With the Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program and the UAB MSTP Program as partners, this brain tumor training program builds on the interdisciplinary basic and translational investigative efforts supported by the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Neuro-Oncology Program. Indeed, twenty faculty members in nine different departments serve as mentors on this training program. Our faculty are dedicated to training in brain tumor cell signaling, metabolism, drug development, therapeutic resistance, imaging, immunotherapies and clinical experience. Faculty are highly collaborative as documented by co-authored publications, co-funded grants, and co-mentorship of trainees. This committed training environment provides an ideal setting for the implementation of interdisciplinary, translational brain tumor research that synergizes scientific efforts.

Over the last funding period, 12 pre-doctoral trainees have been supported, typically for two years of their training program. Five of the 12 pre-doctoral trainees have already obtained a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.: among these graduates, 100% are continuing in biomedical research and the majority of this work or training (3 of 5) directly relates to brain tumor research or clinical care. During the last funding period, the T32 trainees published 24 peer-reviewed manuscripts in highly competitive journals, with an additional 8 submitted and/or under revision. A major effort was made to recruit under-represented minorities (URM) and enhance gender equality among the trainees. Our trainees over the last funding period have been 58% male (7/12) and 42% female (5/12), and have included 17% URM (2/12; 1 Hispanic, 1 African American).

The Training Program in Brain Tumor Biology provides exceptional educational opportunities in basic and translational research. The coursework encompasses the advanced Special Topics in Brain Tumor Biology Course with world renown guest speakers. Enrichment activities include Clinical Shadowing Experiences, a TCGA/Bioinformatics Tutorial, a new Monthly Brain Tumor Research in Progress conference (BRAIN TRIP) and a Brain Tumor Training Program Research Retreat that is starting in response to trainee feedback. Collectively, the coursework, research and enrichment activities will ensure the development of the next generation of basic/translational researchers addressing compelling problems related to brain tumors.