University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Training and Mentoring the Next Generation of Cancer Researchers and Providers

HDFCCC Office of Education & Training (OET) Presents Opportunities, Support Across All Levels of Cancer Community

April 16, 2019

Training and Mentoring the Next Generation of Cancer Researchers and Providers

Panelists share best practices at a career development event hosted by the HDFCCC Office of Education & Training. Photo credit: Elena Graham.

Led by Dr. Emily Bergsland, Associate Director of Education for the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Office of Education & Training (OET) aims to connect the UCSF cancer community with education, mentoring, and career development opportunities across all trainee levels.

We sat down with the OET’s Education and Training Manager, Jennifer Seuferer, MS,  to discuss the program's successes and challenges, its focus on diversity, and the rich suite of online resources available to Cancer Center trainees, faculty, and staff.

What is the purpose of the Office of Education and Training?

In short, our office is working to train the next generation of investigators and clinicians that will be treating and researching cancer. We believe that building a robust and diverse workforce relies on good training and development, and we support that development by helping our internal community move through the steps of their career (e.g from postdoc to PI, fellow to physician).

Exactly whom does your program serve and how?

website screenshot of Office of Education and Training

The OET serves Cancer Center trainees across all levels including faculty, postdocs, fellows, undergrads, and even high school students. We don’t have a specific program for residents yet, but they are included in our audience.

We serve the cancer community in three main ways: by (1) aggregating education and training resources that exist on the UCSF campus and elsewhere; (2) creating trainings that are tailored for the cancer community; and (3) measuring the overall impact of the Cancer Center’s training programs.

One of the best resources we offer is our website, which includes a comprehensive list of programs and opportunities by training level and research interest, as well as grant writing resources, travel grants, and more. Visit our website at!

Can you talk a little more about your program’s focus on diversity?

One of the OET’s main goals is to identify opportunities that engage and support trainees from under-represented populations.

In a recent diversity engagement survey we learned that although 70% of our community members were aware of diversity training on campus, only 30% had participated. As a result, we have initiated an awareness campaign to encourage members to be aware of and participant in trainings. We also learned that of our faculty with diversity supplement eligible grants, less than half had applied for them, mostly because they were unable to find a qualified candidate. To address this, we partnered with the Research Development Office on campus to host a diversity supplement awareness event and are working with campus to create a matchmaking process to connect eligible candidates with faculty.

We also created a Diversity Steering Committee made up of faculty, staff, and trainees to determine priorities for our future efforts and initiated a travel grant program where for half of the grants priority is given to under-represented minorities. We are launching a new paid undergraduate summer internship for first generation college students who will spend 8 weeks conducting research in a Cancer Center member’s lab and we are entering our 3rd year of our CURE Internship, which is a paid research opportunity for African American and Latino high school juniors and seniors in the Bay Area.

Funding for travel?

Funding Opportunity: Travel GrantsThe OET gives out two travel grants every quarter, up to $1500 each. For one of the grants, priority is given to URM (as defined by office of diversity and outreach). The next application process will open the beginning of June.


Can you describe a special class or workshop that your office organized?

We recently held a workshop called “Leadership for Scientists” for about 25 postdocs. (Postdocs are interesting because they spend so much time in school and doing research, but at no time in their training do they get leadership or communications skills training.) As part of our workshop, we paid for the participants to do the Myers Briggs test and had a speaker come to unpack their results. We did exercises on working with different personality types so that when the participants do get to the point of leading a lab, where they will invariably work with different personality types, they will have some skills for that situation.

What has the response been to your work? What are some challenges you’ve faced?

In general, the feedback has been positive and participants have agreed that they’d recommend our trainings to a friend or colleague. The challenge is that preferred times and locations for in-person events vary by group. Because the cancer community is spread across campuses and job roles, we’ve had trouble identifying times and places that work for all. We are a relatively new office and look to our users’ feedback for guidance on future events and programs.

Jennifer Seuferer, MS  

How can the cancer community support or participate in what the OET is doing?

Employees, postdocs, and clinical staff should check our online events calendar and sign up for email updates. As for faculty, we are always looking for panelists, speakers, and mock interviewers to work with us. If you’re interested and available, please contact me at!

Apply for our travel grants! We give out two every quarter, up to $1500 each. For one of the grants, priority is given to URM (as defined by office of diversity and outreach). The next application process will open the beginning of June.