The Inception and Evolution of a Unique Masters Program in Cancer Biology, Prevention and Control
ABSTRACT The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC), Georgetown University Medical Center established a Masters Degree Program in Cancer Biology, Prevention and Control at UDC that is jointly administered and taught by UDC and LCCC faculty. The goal of the Masters Degree Program is to educate students as master-level cancer professionals capable of conducting research and service in cancer biology, prevention, and control or to further advance the education of students to pursue doctoral studies. The Program's unique nature is reflected in its philosophy "the best cancer prevention and control researchers are those with a sound understanding of cancer biology". This program is a full-time, 2-year, 36-credit degree in which students take half of their coursework at UDC and half of their coursework at LCCC. During the second year, students are required to conduct research either at LCCC or UDC. Unlike most cancer biology programs, this unique Program emphasizes both cancer biology and cancer outreach training.
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ABSTRACT: This article provides the findings of a survey of previous and current students in the UDC/GU-LCCC master's degree program. This master's degree program, Cancer Biology, Prevention, and Control is administered and taught jointly by faculty of a Minority Serving Institution, the University of the District of Columbia, and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center to incorporate the strengths of a community-based school with a research intensive medical center. The program was initiated in 2008 through agreements with both University administrations and funding from the National Cancer Institute. The master's degree program is 36 credits with a focus on coursework in biostatistics, epidemiology, tumor biology, cancer prevention, medical ethics, and cancer outreach program design. For two semesters during the second year, students work full-time with a faculty person on a laboratory or outreach project that is a requirement for graduation. Students are supported and encouraged to transition to a doctoral degree after they obtain the master's and many of them are currently in doctorate programs. Since the inception of the program, 45 students have initiated the course of study, 28 have completed the program, and 13 are currently enrolled in the program. The survey was designed to track the students in their current activities, as well as determine which courses, program enhancements, and research experiences were the least and most useful, and to discern students' perceptions of knowledge acquired on various aspects of Cancer Biology Prevention, and Control Master's Program. Thirty of the 35 individuals to whom email requests were sent responded to the survey, for a response rate of 85.7 %. The results of this study will inform the strengthening of the Cancer Biology program by the Education Advisory Committee. They can also be used in the development of comparable collaborative master's degree programs designed to address the significant disparities in prevalence of cancer, low screening awareness, and access to and outcomes of cancer prevention and treatment services. This, in turn, will contribute to the elimination of the dearth of underrepresented minority scientists who address these disparities. By far, the students were satisfied with the program and believe that it has had significant impact on their ability to contribute to cancer prevention and control. They provided both general and specific recommendations to strengthen the program.Journal of Cancer Education 06/2013; 28(3). DOI:10.1007/s13187-013-0481-1 · 1.05 Impact Factor