IMPaCT Investigator Highlights (Text Version) - Dr. Paul Godley
Title: Shaw-UNC Undergraduate Program in Prostate Cancer Research and Training
Investigator: Paul Godley, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina and at Shaw University
So the award that we had was to work with-design a program with Shaw University where we would train undergraduate students in prostate cancer research and so what we designed was a summer program. We selected students from Shaw, juniors and seniors, who had some science or health background, invited them to campus over the summer, had them work with our researchers and so it's a great-I think a great experience, a fun experience for the students to work with our top-notch basic scientists and other translational researchers on campus.
It was groups of four or five students and the grant was over 2 years, so it was a total of eight to ten students that we had in the program.
They got to select a mentor to work on a project and eventually present the outcomes of their project. So that was one factor but also we designed lots of other experiences around prostate cancer. So they got workshops and lectures and journal clubs around prostate cancer and got to talk to our clinicians, our translational researchers, our basic science researchers, our epidemiologists, and other public health researchers, so they got a real spectrum of prostate cancer investigation at UNC.
And then we also helped them guide their careers towards Graduate School. And gave them sort of seminars in how to apply to Graduate School; they got to tour the different schools at UNC. They learned how to present scientific papers, how to write scientific papers, so they got a little training on how to be a competitive candidate for Graduate School.
And at the end, about half of the students who have graduated from Shaw have ended up either in Graduate School or planning to apply to Graduate School. So we think that we really had an impact with this program in taking students who may not otherwise even thought about-certainly not about prostate cancer and not about Graduate School at all, I think we did a good job of taking a cohort of students and really introducing this to them, giving them some training and then really helping them be competitive, for Graduate School.
There is a lot of work to be done looking at particularly disparity issues and prostate cancer. I think we know so little about it that it's unlikely we're going to learn what we need to learn in the next year or two; we really need to prepare the next generation of researchers and make sure that we have sufficient research manpower in the upcoming years, people who are interested, people who are well trained, and who can continue to investigate prostate cancer. So I think these types of training programs are very important.
I think the PCRP has done a good job filling gaps in research. This type of program I don't think would ever have been funded otherwise and so this was really an opportunity to do something that's-that's different.
Hopefully they'll go back; they'll talk to their colleagues, they'll talk to their instructors, and there will be more people than the people we were actually able to train who get stimulated. So I think the idea of working with less research-intensive universities on programs like this is a great idea.
The PCRP Program has really emphasized areas that don't already have funding. So investigators transitioning from one field to another who are transitioning to prostate cancer research, investigators who are early in their career where it's very difficult to get funding, various types of training programs, so I think the PCRP has done a good job at targeting you know which is always a limited amount of funds at areas which are typically underfunded or not funded at all by traditional grant mechanisms. So I'm pretty happy with the way that their-their funding has been targeted.