The purpose of the Postdoctoral Graduate Association (PGA) is to improve career development resources for research trainees at the Georgia Cancer Center and to promote their networks of collaboration.
Peer mentorship has been shown to contribute to the career success and satisfaction of scientists across disciplines (Johnson et al, Acad Med. 2011 86:1577-82).
The PGA is open to all Georgia Cancer Center trainees, including postdocs, graduate & medical students, post-graduate associates, clinical fellows, residents, international students, exchange scholars, and even junior faculty.
The peer-led PGA emerged following the Cancer Center Trainee Town Hall on January 17, 2014. Since then, the PGA has held monthly meetings, hosted social outings, and has participated in community outreach, Cancer Center tours, and educational programming events.
The Pathways to Success series is an informal, interactive opportunity to learn from the career experiences of successful biomedical professionals.
Chair, Department of Immunology
Moffitt Cancer Center
Georgia Cancer Center PGA Founding Leadership
Georgia Cancer Center PGA Meets with Nobel Laureate Dr. Andrew Fire
The Graduate School's Graduate Research Day (GRD) Awards Banquet and 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition Finals event was held Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center. The Georgia Cancer Center had many winners and we congratulate them all!
Cancer Center Trainees Honored: The Graduate School’s Graduate Research Day (GRD) Awards Banquet and 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition Finals event was held Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in the Kroc Center.
3MT is a competition that began earlier this year, which challenges graduate students to present their thesis, using only one static slide, to an educated but non-scientific audience in three minutes or less. The program, championed by Drs. Darren Browning, Patricia Cameron, Pamela Hayward, and Mitchel Watsky, featured a semi-final competition in February, culminating in the finals competition at the GRD Awards Banquet. Four of the eleven 3MT semi-finalists represented the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology PhD program, with two moving into the 3MT finals – and winning the top awards:
Sarah Sharman (Browning laboratory) received 2nd place (with $500) for her presentation, “Viagra: for more than a good time.” Bianca Islam (also of the Browning laboratory) collected both the People’s Choice Award (with $250) and 1st place (with $1000) for her 3MT, “Sildenafil for the prevention of colon cancer.”
The Finals Judges, Dr. Gretchen Caughman, Deke Copenhaver, Dr. David Hess, Tony Lawrence, Dr. Karla Leeper, Brad Means, and Shawn Vincent, represented Augusta University and the greater Augusta community.
The banquet also featured the Graduate School’s GRD Awards, including the “Graduate School Awards for Excellence in Research by a Graduate Student.” Notably, four of the six winners are graduate students from Cancer Center laboratories:
In addition, Hussein Sultan (left); (Celis laboratory) received the R. August Roesel Memorial Award for Research Excellence in Biochemistry & Cancer Biology, and Aaron Fan, (right) also of the Celis laboratory, won the Award for Excellence in Research – Molecular Medicine.
Congratulations to all winners for their excellence in cancer research!
Many Georgia Cancer Center colleagues participated as speakers, poster presenters, and mentors in the AACR Annual Meeting 2017, which took place in Washington, DC from April 1-5. Cancer Center trainees met for a luncheon at a local Thai restaurant and organized a post-meeting review (led by Dr. Bhagelu Achyut (Arbab laboratory)) for Thursday, April 13th back at the Georgia Cancer Center.
In addition to the main AACR meeting, AACR’s science education initiative offered two programs, both organized by Dr. Sanya Springfield, NCI’s Director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, which received Georgia Cancer Center representation. MD-PhD student Bianca Islam (Browning laboratory) – along with Dr. Rui Wang (Browning laboratory alumnus currently at MDACC, Houston TX) – participated as mentors in the 12th Annual AACR Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition on Saturday, April 1, 2017. On Tuesday, April 4, Dr. Hasan Korkaya shared his research and career insights while Bianca served as a mentor at the AACR’s Special Program for High School Students, an event catered to next-generation cancer researchers.
Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks during a special session, “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot: Progress and Promise” on Monday, April 3.
Dr. Korkaya (3rd from the right) and Bianca Islam (3rd from the left) with high school student attendees at AACR’s Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition on Monday, April 3.
The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) was founded by the University of Queensland (UQ) as an exercise
in developing the communication skills of next-generation researchers. Launched by UQ in 2008,
the competition challenges students to describe their research in a compelling, articulate way in just three minutes to an educated but non-specialist audience.
Over the years, the 3MT competition concept has spread to more than 350 niversities world-wide…And now to Augusta University. The 3MT effort here, conceptualized by Dr. Patricia Cameron and headed by Drs. Darren Browning (Health Sciences ampus, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) and Pamela Hayward (Summerville Campus, Department of Communication), started in the fall of 2016, with 11 students competing in the preliminary round on February 10, 2017.
All gave commendable presentations, driving the panel of six judges into extended deliberation before naming the five students who will proceed to the Augusta University finals. Two of these students, Bianca Islam and Sarah Sharman, are from the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology PhD program, completing thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Browning. With just one static slide and no additional props, Bianca and Sarah will join the 3 other finalists (Joanna Erion (Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine); Rebecca Ward and John Paul Valenzuela (Department of Physiology)) to compete for the title of Inaugural Augusta University 3MT Winner at the Graduate Research Day Banquet on March 28, 2017 in the Kroc Center.
First place will receive $1000 and second place, $500. There will also be a $250 Peoples’ Choice award! “Mentoring the students to think about their research from a unique perspective has been inspiring. They have all worked so hard, and the results are tangible. They are much better equipped to discuss their research with a lay audience, which is an important skill for all scientists as there is a great need to inform our politicians and the general public of the importance of what we are accomplishing in our laboratories every day.” – Dr. Browning
MD-PhD Student Heads for Capitol Hill. MD-PhD student Bianca Islam (Dr. Darren Browning laboratory) will be participating in the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Early-Career Hill Day Feb 28-Mar 1 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Reflecting well on the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology Graduate program, the Georgia Cancer Center, and Augusta University, Bianca is one of only 15 individuals in the United States to have been selected for this opportunity to represent cancer researcher concerns to US government leaders. Bianca attributes her success in part to the new Three Minute Thesis (3MT) training on how to describe her research in a relatable manner.
As part of the Early-Career Hill Day program, Bianca will meet face-to-face with senators and representatives and/or their key staff and attend up to five meetings on Capitol Hill, where she may share first-hand stories of the impact of cancer research funding on her career and how cancer has personally affected her life. The program is the second annual event of its kind, originally formed through AACR’s advocacy for increased NIH and NCI funding in support of cancer research and for the importance of US early-career researchers to the country’s global leadership in science.
Dr. Surendra Rajpurohit ("Raj"; right) and Mason Webb (left) spent a Friday morning with students of Grovetown High discussing cancer research.
They joined Christine O’Meara on this community outreach event promoting the Cancer Center and its mission.
From February 28 through March 1, MD-PhD student Bianca Islam (Dr. Darren Browning laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Georgia Cancer Center) was in Washington, DC as part of the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Early-Career Hill Day. Representing the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology Graduate program, and the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, Ms. Islam is one of only 15 individuals in the United States to have been selected for this opportunity to represent cancer researcher concerns to US government leaders.
Her experience was an unforgettable one, and one she hopes will help make an impact on the future of biomedical science research and its funding.
The group of selected AACR associate members met with a total of 39 offices (21 from the House and 18 from the Senate), including those of key committee members. Their tripartite message was clear: They offered thanks to the Members of Congress for passing the 21st Century Cures Act in December 2016, allocating $4.3B in funding to the NIH, including $1.8B assigned to cancer research via the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot” – $300M of which is dedicated to fiscal year 2017. Secondly, they advocated for “predictable, robust, and sustainable funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to include a $2B increase in NIH funding via a final FY2017 Appropriations Bill this spring.” Finally, they voiced the importance of strong, diverse, and multi-disciplinary US early-career researchers to the country’s global leadership in science.
These initiatives, peppered with real-life research experiences, helped instill the message that better human health – and effective cancer strategies – are within reach, provided appropriate funding and support. “One of the most memorable aspects of Hill Day was being able to have one-on-one connections with the legislators and staffers about the gravity of cancer research. I was able to emphasize the fact that cancer touches so many peoples’ lives, and our fight against cancer is a bipartisan effort... It was pretty clear that when we were able to advocate for sustainable NIH and NCI funding directly to our state and local district, the message resonated with the staffers,” says Ms. Islam.
In addition to the resources and mentors within Augusta University, Ms. Islam is grateful for the opportunities available to her through AACR. Before Hill Day, she had attended two AACR annual meetings, had served twice as judge for the AACR Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition, and had received the AACR Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) travel award. Through Hill Day, she realizes more than ever the importance of scientists engaging in science policy and advocacy. “By participating in AACR conferences, I have been able to see numerous talks that have improved the quality of my research, and I have been able to collaborate with new investigators on different projects… But as early-career scientists, we need to think about the future of science. We are at the forefront of a changing economic landscape, and we need to ensure that we can receive sustainable funding to continually make scientific advancements in healthcare.”