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Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program

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Overview

The Markey Cancer Center (MCC) has established a new educational pipeline program: the MCC Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program. First established as the Career Training in Oncology Program (CTOP) in 2016, the program offers Appalachian Kentucky high school and undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Kentucky the opportunity to gain cancer research, clinical, outreach and education experiences that will enrich their interest in pursuing a cancer-focused career.

  • Our goals

    • To develop participants’ cancer research knowledge and skills through cross-disciplinary faculty-mentored research training experiences.
    • To enhance students’ cancer-focused career preparation by providing didactic cancer education and career development mentoring through faculty-led courses, workshops, seminars, and career coaching and mentoring.
    • To conduct outreach activities in participant communities to increase the understanding of the research and clinical aspects of cancer and the importance of science education among universities; primary and secondary school groups; civic organizations; health care providers; and the families and communities of our student participants.
    • To evaluate program progress and impacts, focusing on longitudinal participant data (including tracking progression of participants through their academic and professional careers) and outreach activity efficacy.

  • Our plan

    Students will be paired with a research faculty mentor who will provide an enriching research experience and with a clinical faculty mentor who will provide a clinical perspective on cancer. Students will obtain didactic cancer education and participate in outreach activities. We will also form a peer-to-peer mentoring network in which current UK graduate students and ACTION students will meet formally at least once per month and more informally as desired. Within the academic year our students will be expected to dedicate at least 10 hours per week to the program, and during the summer, students will dedicate 40 hours per week.

    Ultimately, we will create an atmosphere of career development, lifelong learning, and sustained mentorship that will be focused on training the next generation of cancer researchers, education/prevention experts, and/or clinicians or other healthcare providers.

  • Outreach

    Participants of the ACTION Program will work with program personnel to provide cancer research and clinical cancer education information to Appalachian Kentucky residents. The outreach activities will focus specifically on three target audiences:

    1. Middle school, high school and undergraduate students.
    2. Parents and families of the ACTION participants.
    3. Teachers, community members and civic leaders.

    Through involvement in outreach activities, ACTION participants will be trained to become change agents in their communities related to enhancing cancer-related literacy throughout Appalachian Kentucky.

  • Personnel

    • Nathan Vanderford, PhD, MBA
      • Director, ACTION Program
      • Assistant Professor, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology
      • Assistant Director for Research, UK Markey Cancer Center
      • Director of Administration, Center for Cancer and Metabolism
    • B. Mark Evers, MD, FACS
      • Associate Director, ACTION Program
      • Director, UK Markey Cancer Center
      • Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Surgery
    • Donald T. Frazier, PhD
      • Associate Director, ACTION Program
      • Director, Donald T. Frazier Science Outreach
      • Professor Emeritus, Department of Physiology
    • Melissa Hounshell
      • Outreach Coordinator, ACTION Program
      • Director of Community Outreach, UK Markey Cancer Center
  • Committees

    Internal Advisory Committee

    • Susanne Arnold, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Director of Clinical Translation, UK Markey Cancer Center
    • Sonja Feist-Price, PhD, Vice President for Institutional Diversity
    • Robert Hayes, Acting Associate Director of First Generation Initiatives/Robinson Scholars Program
    • Carlos Marin, Assistant Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement
    • Tim Mullett, MD, Professor of Surgery and Medical Director, UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network
    • Kathleen O’Connor, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and Associate Director for Cancer Education, UK Markey Cancer Center
    • Kristin O’Leary, University of Kentucky Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology Undergraduate Student
    • Nancy Schoenberg, PhD, Professor of Behavioral Science and Associate Dean for Research, College of Public Health
    • Brett Spear, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
    • Daret St. Clair, PhD, Professor of Toxicology and Cancer Biology and Associate Director for Basic Research, UK Markey Cancer Center

    External Advisory Committee

    • Maurice Godfrey, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Nebraska
    • Jennifer Harris, MD, PhD, Surgical Oncology Fellow, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    • Monica Mynk, Science Teacher, Powell County High School
    • Ann Richmond, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University
    • Phillip Sharp, PhD, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Tamara Stewart, Director, EKU Upward Bound
  • Eligibility

    To be eligible for the program, students must:

    1. Be a native of one of the 54 Appalachian Kentucky counties.
    2. Be enrolled in a high school within Appalachian Kentucky as an incoming freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior or be a current University of Kentucky freshman, sophomore, or junior.
    3. Be a member of our target population (underrepresented minority, female, from a low income family, first generation college student, or otherwise underserved student).