Education and Outreach
Each of the PS-ON Centers contain an education and outreach unit that is responsible for coordinating education, training, career development, and scientific outreach activities.
The Education and Outreach Unit of this PS-ON Center provides multidisciplinary education targeted to the strengths and interests of quantitative scientists, while presenting challenges that the field of cancer biology faces today. It works to create new venues to promote collaboration between cancer researchers, physicists, and mathematicians, as well as organizes yearly workshops and symposia.
This PS-ON Center also hosts a series of informal talks on applied topology, organizes scientific meetings related to physical sciences in oncology, and offers classes on data analysis.
This PS-ON Center connects trainees with cancer patients and survivors on an on-going basis through a collaboration with the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.
The objectives of this outreach program are to provide trainees with:
- The communication skills needed to present their research in lay language
- An opportunity to see the human dimensions of cancer
- An understanding that researcher-patient partnerships are mutually beneficial
Training experiences include classroom instruction that emphasizes science communication, multiple opportunities to present cancer research to the local community, and involvement in patient support activities at the Cancer Resource Center. By teaching - and learning from - cancer patients, trainees gain a unique perspective on cancer that complements their more traditional research training. Community members have the opportunity to see cancer research first-hand, gaining an appreciation of its complexities, and insight into the future of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
This PS-ON Center is facilitating integrative science through appropriate education and outreach, as well as provides career building opportunities. The overarching goal is to expose scientists and students to a multidisciplinary environment, foster collaborative networks, and ensure career building opportunities in the field of physical sciences – oncology.
Education and outreach activities include:
- Organizing presentations and lab meetings with a myriad of guest speakers from diverse backgrounds
- Developing a journal club with several different labs around the Longwood Medical Area
- Implementing an institute-wide seminar series
- Co-sponsoring regional and national conferences
This Center also encourages PS-ON investigators and trainees to present their work to the scientific community and to foster collaborations for future research directions.
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
The Education and Outreach Unit of this PS-ON Center is developing a framework to cross-train physical and clinical oncologists to facilitate the translation of ecological and evolutionary principles into clinically testable treatment strategies.
Activities of this PS-ON Unit include:
- Organizing annual interdisciplinary workshops to train experimental, clinical, and quantitative scientists to enable the integration of biological experimentation, mechanistic modeling, and clinical trials
- Developing working groups to facilitate the interaction of scientists from theoretical, experimental, and clinical backgrounds to answer key relevant cancer questions
- Educating a new generation of scientists at the interface of tumor biology, quantitative modeling, and cancer treatment (e.g., internship programs for high school and college students)
- Sharing model frameworks and experimental data with the scientific and general public
- Educating patients and patient advocates on quantitative sciences in clinical oncology
Additionally, patient advocacy plays a central role in our PS-ON Center. Patient advocates participate in and contribute to work in progress presentations, research seminars, and scientific retreats.
Johns Hopkins University
It co-hosts an annual symposium with the Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT), which allows faculty, students, and guest speakers to showcase physical sciences in oncology research and to share ideas, information, techniques, and methods. This PS-ON Center also runs a summer seminar series that provides further opportunities for researchers to interact, share knowledge, and collaborate.
Training is an important aspect of this Education and Outreach Core to prepare the next generation of researchers. It not only trains current students and postdocs within the network, but also trains students outside of PS-ON research labs.
This PS-ON Center also leverages the internet and print publications to highlight important work, opportunities, and educational content.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This Center focuses on the cross-disciplinary training of undergraduates in each of the associated labs, such that students get exposed to principles of physical science, engineering, and molecular biology within the context of a research project.
At the graduate and post-doctoral level, it facilitates inter-lab cross-disciplinary training. Students from each lab within the PS-ON Center travel to other labs to improve their knowledge of different techniques and perspectives. The goal is to educate trainees to be fluent in physical sciences, engineering, and oncology.
The Education and Outreach Unit also hosts speakers and organizes symposia focusing on the role of the blood-brain barrier in the treatment of glioblastoma.
Houston Methodist Research Institute
The Education and Outreach Unit of this PS-ON Center aims to engage and develop high-caliber students and scientists in physical sciences oncology, as well as to provide resources and opportunities for innovative collaborations.
It organizes scientific symposia that encourage open participation and discussion on how physical sciences affects cancer immunotherapy with scientists, clinicians, patient advocates, and trainees.
The Education and Outreach Unit also receives guidance from patient advocates who serve as ambassadors for patient-centered care and education about PS-ON initiatives.
The PS-ON Center’s Community Engagement Program is educating students in grades K-12 and exposing them to the models, concepts, and applications of mass transport at an annual Science Day. Additionally, the Scientist Exchange and the Trainee Research Programs catalyze fast-track, interactive laboratory or clinical experience under a host investigator within the PS-ON.
Overall, the Education and Outreach Unit is dedicated to training the next generation of physical scientists and raising awareness in the general public, scientific, and patient communities about cancer immunotherapy breakthroughs.
University of Minnesota
It collaborates with Black Label Movement (a professional dance company directed by Carl Flink) in the “Moving Cell” project. Dancers, who are also known as movers, rapidly assimilate biological model rules, and carry out human-scale simulations over a few minutes. The process is called bodystorming, where bodies and minds work together to rapidly construct and deconstruct models. The interactions facilitated by bodystorming use human movement as a facilitator to break down disciplinary language barriers between cancer researchers, patients, clinicians, and caregivers to accelerate the science.
This PS-ON Center has been sponsoring an undergraduate summer research initiative since it began in 2015. This program has two arms: one for students from institutions that are part of this PS-ON Center, and another for underrepresented minority students from institutions outside of this PS-ON Center. In addition to performing research, summer students write research proposals and attend weekly tumor biology seminars. They also participate in the NCI summer undergraduate research conference and mini-DREAM challenges.
The Education and Outreach Unit also organizes an annual Summer Workshop on Cancer Fundamentals. This half-day workshop provides an introduction to basic principles of cancer biology and clinical oncology. Additionally, this PS-ON Center has an annual symposium that is often attended by a number of faculty and trainees from Chicago-area institutions.
It also sponsors public roundtable discussions by clinicians associated with PS-ON and talks by authors of popular books on cancer.
University of Pennsylvania
It runs a seminar series that is attended by faculty and trainees from physics, mathematics, engineering, biomedicine, and veterinary science. Before and after these lectures, invited speakers meet with investigators, postdocs, and graduate students for scientific discussions.
Trainees of this PS-ON Center give Summer Talks, which allows them to get feedback on their work from peers and senior investigators.
Information dissemination and education related to the PS-ON is conducted through Penn Canvas (the academic courseware program to share data, announcements of events & seminars etc.) and the PSON Center’s website.
Additionally, Education and Outreach activities include:
- Organizing symposia and conferences
- Supporting trainee presentations and networking opportunities
- Patient advocacy