University of California San Francisco

NIH T32 Surgical Oncology - Homepage

Preparing trainees as leaders for a career in surgical oncology
Gillian Hirst

Program Contact

•  Enquiries: Gillian Hirst, PhD T32 Administrative Director
•  Email: [email protected]

The goal of this innovative “Idea to Impact” (I2I) T32 training program is to train future leaders in surgery and oncology to be change agents in driving science and value-based medicine. This is achieved by providing a foundation in (1) translational science, (2) regulatory science and (3) health services research. Today, to be a leader in healthcare, one must have the understanding and ability to navigate the complex delivery and regulatory environments in which we work. To succeed in changing practice and improving outcomes, whether you work in an academic medical center or a community hospital means knowing how to evaluate if a technology/service warrants further development in the context of healthcare value, quality improvement and patient-centered care. All three of these areas in our training program are required to take great ideas from bench to bedside. Improving care in the next decade will require scientific creativity but also knowledge of the factors that enable and impede change, and the skillset to overcome barriers to change.


Idea to Impact (I2I) Program

This program provides surgical residents with research opportunities in oncology as well as the tools required for leadership in their chosen profession of surgical oncology. The grant provides annual funding for in-depth training of four general surgery residents who can conduct mentored research from 1-3 years depending on their program requirements.

The training program is comprised of three main components:

1) Mentored research projects focused within one or more of our thematic areas: translational science, regulatory science or health services research. Projects should be developed with consideration and mentorship from our faculty across all three scientific domains, and trainee applications will be assessed on the impact and engagement of these research areas in their project plan. Trainees are expected to devote ≥ 80%-time effort and intended to result in at least 2 peer-reviewed publications and 2 conference abstracts. Conducting and publishing high-quality research projects is fundamental to launching successful research careers, and the support of skilled and dedicated mentors is essential to this task.

2) Rigorous formal training in methodologies and statistical analysis methods for clinical, translational and/or epidemiological research through coursework supported by the training program.

3) An experiential and problem-oriented Leadership Curriculum, designed to provide trainees with the skills and confidence to tackle challenging clinical and research programs and create meaningful change in clinical practice and care.


Program Leadership

The program is led by Dr Laura Esserman M.D., M.B.A, Gillian Hirst, Ph.D., Administrative Director and Education Director, Patricia O’Sullivan, Ed.D.

Core to the training program are mentored research projects, with at least some consideration of each component of the Translational Science, Regulatory Science and Health Services Research.

Theme leaders: Elizabeth Wick, M.D. and Emily Finlayson, M.D. (Health Services Research), Laura van ‘t Veer, Ph.D. and Kathy Giacomini, Ph.D. (Regulatory) and David Jablons, M.D. and Laura Esserman M.D., M.B.A. (Translational).


Trainee Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, trainees will have demonstrated proficiency in the following key competencies:

  • Identification and prioritization of clinical questions and formulation of focused research questions
  • Design of appropriate observational, experimental and/or clinical studies to address research questions
  • Detailed understanding of the complex healthcare delivery environment in the US and principles of value-based healthcare and quality improvement
  • Utilize experimental approaches used in health services research and the techniques and application of implementation science
  • Identify scientific/technical foundations and processes of the regulatory environment for medical products in the US
  • Interpretation of findings, including working knowledge of biostatistics
  • Ability to apply critical analysis of scientific literature, research methods, and data
  • Verbal and written communication of scientific problems, methods and findings
  • Implement project management and ability to use project management software, ability to work in teams and manage team dynamics; ability to delegate work and rely on others
  • Career development and leadership strategies to invoke positive change in standards of care