Post-Doctoral Training Grant in Cancer Survivorship

The Post-Doctoral Training Program in Cancer Survivorship at the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center (WFBCCC) prepares trainees to become independent research investigators in the field of cancer prevention and control, with a particular focus on cancer survivorship.

The growing field of cancer survivorship research includes a broad range of areas such as:

  • health-related quality of life
  • lifestyle/behavior change
  • symptom management
  • access to treatment
  • health disparities
  • complementary and alternative interventions
  • late effects and clinical care

Program Features
This innovative, multifaceted postdoctoral program is highly tailored to the individual and provides support for 2-3 years. Each trainee is matched with at least two mentors from different specialty areas in cancer survivorship.

The program provides opportunities to work closely with senior faculty as part of multidisciplinary research teams to:

  • Receive specialized didactic and experiential training in diverse areas such as oncology, epidemiology, nutrition, cancer biology, behavioral oncology and genetics.
  • Publish manuscripts using existing datasets and new projects.
  • Obtain hands-on experience conducting research with cancer survivors.
  • Gather pilot data for future research.
  • Present research findings at scientific meetings.
  • Develop and submit an NIH grant proposal reviewed by a mock study section.
  • Take selected courses in or complete an optional Master of Science in Clinical and Population Translational Sciences.
  • Collaborate on studies using various methodologies, including clinical trials, observational studies, large databases and qualitative research.

Cancer Survivorship

Over the past two decades, improvements in cancer screening and treatment have resulted in a significant increase in the number of cancer survivors. In recognition of the growing numbers of cancer survivors, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) established the Office of Cancer Survivorship (OCS) with the mission of enhancing the quality and length of survival of all persons diagnosed with cancer and minimizing or stabilizing adverse effects experienced during cancer survivorship.

The critical transition from active treatment to post-treatment care has been identified as a high-priority research area for both understanding the issues faced by cancer survivors and their families, as well as for delivering survivorship care. The issues involved in cancer survivorship are inherently interdisciplinary and involve knowledge of epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, clinical oncology, cancer biology, and genetics.

Our multidisciplinary training program serves to train MD- and PhD-level scientists to become independent researchers in cancer survivorship.

Training Overview

This postdoctoral training program focuses on critical skills necessary to become an independent researcher in cancer control with a focus on survivorship.

The training includes:

  • working with faculty from a variety of clinical, basic and social science backgrounds
  • personalized mentoring in research and professional development
  • specialized coursework in research methods and grant writing
  • participation in a variety of research seminars and journal clubs

These activities provide ample opportunities for trainees to interact with colleagues and faculty in a range of educational and research-related activities.


A core element of the training program is the opportunity to work closely with a primary mentor, as well as a mentoring committee of approximately three to five faculty members. The primary mentor and committee assist the trainee in defining and working toward his or her professional goals. Applicants are asked to state their specific interests in cancer survivorship upon applying to the program to ensure that potential mentors can be identified prior to accepting a trainee into the program.

See a list of potential mentors, including their disciplines and research interests.

Program Training

Trainees will receive the following training during the fellowship period:

Course Work

The specific nature of a trainee’s research experience will vary per his or her background, research interests and career goals. The purpose of this program is to give trainees experience in components essential to the success of a clinical researcher. Get a summary of the trainee core requirements and optional individualized training experiences that a trainee may choose.

Clinical and Population Translational Sciences (CPTS)

Trainees also have the option of taking selected courses or completing a Master of Science or certificate in Clinical and Population Translational Sciences.

Master of Science
The Master of Science (MS) degree in CPTS is co-administered by the Division of Public Health Sciences and the Wake Forest University Translational Science Institute. Students complete one full calendar year of coursework that emphasizes:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical health services
  • Community research

Students also complete a thesis project of publishable quality that is closely aligned with the student’s interests and career objectives.

Students participate in a shared course with students in the Molecular Medicine and Translational Science (MMTS) program to develop an understanding of the spectrum of translational science.

A certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences is also available to doctoral students, post-doctoral trainees and faculty members at Wake Forest University or affiliated institutions.

Acceptance and Graduate Admissions
Acceptance into the Cancer Prevention & Control Research Training Program does not automatically admit you to the Clinical and Translational Sciences Program or any other graduate program at Wake Forest University. All post-doctoral fellows are required to apply for admittance to graduate programs in which they are interested.

Review the admission criteria and procedures for the Wake Forest University (WFU) Graduate School.

Get more information about the MS and the certificate of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Program.

Elective Coursework

Trainees may also elect to take individual graduate-level courses to assist them in their training experience. The Wake Forest University Graduate School offers a wide range of programs and coursework in the biomedical sciences and the arts and sciences. Further information on the graduate programs is available at Wake Forest University.

Research Mentors

A core element of the training program is the opportunity to work closely with a primary mentor, as well as a mentoring committee of approximately three to five faculty members. The primary mentor and this committee assist the trainee in defining and working toward his or her professional goals. Applicants are asked to state their specific interests in cancer survivorship upon applying to the program to ensure that potential mentors can be identified prior to accepting a trainee into the program.

Potential mentors come from a range of disciplines, have cancer-related funding in a variety of areas, participate in collaborative research teams and have considerable experience in mentoring. Click on a mentor's name to link to a bio page that provides more information about the mentor’s research interests, current funding and publications.

Potential Mentors, Department Discipline and Research Interests

Nancy Avis, PhD, MS
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Social Psychology and Epidemiology
Quality of life, symptom management, complementary and alternative medicine, long-term survivors

William Blackstock, MD
Radiation Oncology
Cardiovascular effects of radiation treatment, lung cancer, mentoring

Suzanne Danhauer, PhD
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Clinical Psychology
Complementary and alternative approaches to symptom management, post-traumatic growth, adolescent and young adult survivors, workability

William G. Hundley, MD
Cardiovascular effects of cancer treatment on vascular biology and function, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, clinical cardiology, and echocardiography

David Miller, MD, MA
Internal Medicine
Efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening in socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, particularly those with limited health literacy, mHealth

Shannon Mihalko, PhD
Health and Exercise Science Exercise science
Physical activity, aging and cancer, quality of life

Lance Miller, PhD
Cancer Biology
Use of genomic platforms to drive the discovery, mechanistic characterization and translational applications of novel genes and pathways involved in tumor progression and predictive of clinical behavior

Barbara Nicklas, PhD
Internal Medicine, Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine
Aging, obesity and physical activity; exercise training and dietary weight loss interventions in older adults including cancer survivors

W. Jeffrey Petty, MD
Internal Medicine, Hematology & Oncology
Tobacco use on the outcomes of lung cancer patients; lung carcinogenesis and developing targeted lung cancer prevention strategies

Stephen Rapp, PhD
Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Clinical Psychology
Cancer and cognitive functioning

John Salsman, PhD
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Clinical Psychology
Young adult cancer survivors, spirituality, well-being

Erin Sutfin, PhD
Social Sciences & Health Policy, Developmental Psychology
Tobacco control, dissemination and implementation research

Janet Tooze, PhD
Biostatistical Science, Biostatistics
Repeated measures data, data with clumping at zero, nutritional epidemiology and surveillance, cancer prevention

Mara Vitolins, PhD
Epidemiology and Prevention, Nutrition Epidemiology
Dietary factors in symptom management and reducing cancer progression

Lynne Wagner, PhD
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Clinical Psychology
Psychosocial oncology, patient-reported outcomes, eHealth

Kathryn Weaver, PhD
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Clinical Psychology
Health behavior among cancer survivors and their family caregivers, patterns of follow-up care among cancer survivors and cancer health disparities

Mark Wolfson, PhD
Social Sciences and Health Policy, Sociology
Tobacco control among college students, community interventions

How to Apply

This program is intended for individuals seeking an academic position who have a career interest in becoming an independent researcher in cancer survivorship.

The program seeks highly motivated individuals with recent doctorates (PhD, DrPH, MD, DO) in health-related areas as well as more experienced individuals with similar degrees wishing to change to or more fully develop their cancer survivorship research interests.

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Applications should include: 

  • A cover letter stating research interests and how the training grant will further your career in cancer survivorship
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation

Inquiries regarding availability of openings are encouraged.  You may email Dr. Nancy Avis at: 

Funding and Support

Trainees receive two to three years of funding, depending on training needs and research experience.

The traineeship includes a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and a generous, flexible research allowance. The research allowance is available for trainees to:

  • Conduct pilot study research
  • Attend professional meetings and workshops
  • Support tuition
  • Receive statistical support
  • Cover other related expenses

Funded Research

The following are some examples of the funded research projects that mentors and cancer control researchers are working on and are available for research participation and manuscripts.

External Advisory Committee

The Post-Doctoral Training Program in Cancer Survivorship has an External Advisory Committee made up of four senior scientists who have significant expertise in leading training grants and in cancer survivorship. Members of this committee have agreed to consider sponsoring trainees at their respective institutions for short periods of time to provide additional collaborative opportunities.

Advisory Members Include:

Robert M. Chamberlain, PhD, Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center and retired Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Chamberlain founded the oldest and largest NCI-funded cancer prevention training program in the country, which has been continuously funded for 25 years.

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, RD, LDN, is the Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center and Professor of Nutrition Sciences. She is internationally recognized for her work in nutrition and exercise. Her research has focused on the assessment of risk factors for prostate cancer, determining causes and prevention of weight gain during treatment for breast cancer and delivering dietary interventions aimed at either primary or secondary prevention.

Mark B. Dignan, PhD, MPH, is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky and the Director of the CDC-funded University of Kentucky Prevention Research Center (UKPRC). His research has focused on cancer prevention and control with an emphasis on cancer health disparities. His work has included projects that developed and evaluated mass media programs, lay health advisor and navigator interventions for patients and the public and health care provider programs designed to increase screening and adherence to follow-up recommendations among medically underserved rural and minority populations.

Patricia A. Ganz, MD, is a Professor of Health Services and Medicine at the UCLA School of Public Health Department of Health Services. She is a preeminent leader in the field of cancer survivorship and a leader in the integration of quality-of-life assessment in clinical trials. She has conducted federally funded research for over two decades and has led several large clinical intervention trials in breast cancer. Her current research focuses on the late effects of cancer treatment.