To assure a critical mass of great young investigators interested in dedicating their careers to studying ovarian cancer, the Department of Defense has established a program for Early Career Investigators under the Ovarian Cancer Research Program. The Academy Dean structure recognizes that we must nurture our Early Career Investigators in an orderly program which provides exciting new and committed mentoring so that each mentee has an equal opportunity to show progressive development and scientific maturation during the course of his or her grant. Cross fertilization between mentees and mentors, and between mentees and the Academy Dean, will increase the technologies and opportunities available to each individual investigator. Metrics and milestones will be put in place to make each Early Career Investigator aware of the criteria and the pace required for sufficient productivity and progress necessary to attain research grant (R01) funding from the National Institute of Health and Assistant Professorship status by the end of the tenure of this program. The investment of the Department of Defense into the Early Career Investigators and the structure and support provided by the Academy Dean and mentors will enhance development of young mentees and leave less to chance. The yearly assessments will make certain that each investigator's career development does not go off track or off pace.
The long-term goals of the Academy Dean program are to increase the cadre of excellent young investigators dedicated to studying ovarian cancer. We can model the metric and the methods of development on the prestigious programs presently available through the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Career Awards in Biomedical Sciences, which this Academy Dean applicant has chaired, and the NIH Pathway to Independence grants. The creation of a virtual Academy through advanced videoconferencing and an online web-based lecture series will interconnect mentors, mentees, and the Academy Dean, and will integrate them with the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program staff and with the External Advisory Board. This program will address for the first time the national need for investigators dedicated to ovarian cancer, which to this point in time has been sorely left to chance.