New collaboration aims to jump-start young scientists’ efforts to cure cancer
USC Dornsife Dean’s Professor of Biological Sciences Peter Kuhn conducts his cancer research at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience. (Photo: Noé Montes.)

New collaboration aims to jump-start young scientists’ efforts to cure cancer

USC Dornsife’s Peter Kuhn will serve as deputy director of a new virtual cancer center, funded by a grant from the Department of Defense. [1¾ min read]
ByGary Polakovic

Two internationally prominent cancer experts, one from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and one from Cedars-Sinai, will train a new generation of investigators to propel scientific advances in cancer through a novel grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Peter Kuhn, Dean’s Professor of Biological Sciences at USC Dornsife, and Dan Theodorescu, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer, were awarded the inaugural Virtual Cancer Center Director Award in April to establish the Convergent Science Virtual Cancer Center. It is the only such award granted in the United States.

Theodorescu will serve as director of the new center; Kuhn, who is also director of the Convergent Science Institute in Cancer at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, will hold the post of deputy director.

Experts at the virtual cancer center will guide emerging scholars from diverse science backgrounds and institutions to accelerate their research and careers.

“Our vision is to transform the fundamental cancer research culture, with a focus on training the next-generation investigator and to maximize their impact on patient outcomes,” Kuhn said.

Cancer experts to guide scholars and their research

In collaboration with members of an advisory board, the virtual cancer center leaders will identify investigators’ scientific and career development roadblocks and then help build a team of national experts to guide their research. The advisory board will include the investigators’ career guides, patient advocates and a special advisor on military health.

Kuhn and Theodorescu will use a system they developed called Adaptive Catalysis of Convergent Research Training, or ACERT, to design a personalized research and professional development roadmap for each researcher.

The virtual cancer center’s scholars also will have access to the Convergence Council, a group of established investigators who will use their extensive professional networks to facilitate new connections and collaborations.

The council members include a Nobel Prize winner and members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as biotechnology executives and leaders who have agreed to participate in workshops, networking events and other roles.

The center is scheduled to launch in September.

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