HDFCCC K12 Physician Scholar Program in Clinical Oncology (PSPCO)

HDFCCC K12 Physician Scholar Program in Clinical Oncology (PSPCO)

The goal of PSPCO is to foster the development of the next generation of clinical scientists to be effective partners with discovery scientists and conduct high impact and innovative patient-centered cancer research. RFA and link to online application at the bottom of this page.

PSPCO's curriculum focuses on developing expertise in clinical trail design and implementations. The program leaders and the trainee's mentoring team will work with each PSPCO scholar to individualize the training but the major components of the curriculum are:

Area 1: Clinical Research Methods and Patient-oriented Cancer Research
Key Topics: Career Development Activities

Clinical research methodology

Study conduct

Formal Coursework

  • UCSF Advanced Training in Clinical Research (ATCR) Program (or electives)**

Tutorials/1:1 Mentoring with Program Faculty

  • CTSI K Scholars Program Work in Progress (WIP) and career development 
  • HDFCCC K12 WIP (quarterly)

HDFCCC K12 Seminar Series (every other month) – From Concept to Completion: Strategies for successful cancer clinical trials

Experiential Learning

  • Clinical rotations* (year 2) and Continuity Clinic
  • Participation in HDFCCC Site Committee and PRC meeting
  • Attendance at UCSF IRB and HDFCCC DSMC meeting (Year 2)
  • Presentation at a HDFCCC Community Advisory Board (CAB) Meeting (Year 2)
  • Other workshops as relevant
  *Optional; **Individualized coursework
Area 2: Principles of Translational Cancer Research and Drug Development
Key Topics Career Development Activities

Cancer Biology

Drug Development


Biospecimen stewardship

Tutorials/1:1 Mentoring with Program Faculty

  • Career Development Committee

HDFCCC K12 Workshop – Clinically Driven Discovery Science in Cancer: From Bench to Bedside (1 week)

HDFCCC Bridging the Gap Quarterly Series (The series brings together exceptional clinical cancer researchers with the innovative discovery research community at UCSF to create an environment that fosters clinically guided discovery science and collaboration.)

Experiential Learning

  • Attendance at HDFCCC Molecular Tumor Board and Hereditary Cancer Tumor Board
  • Short laboratory rotations*
Area 3: Academic Success Skills for Clinician Scientists Engaged in Cancer Research
Key Topics Academic Success Activities


Team Science

Teaching & Mentoring Skills

Time management

Communication Skills

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

UCSF CTSI K Scholars Program

HDFCCC Early Career Leadership Seminar

HDFCCC K12 Seminar Series – Career Development Topics

Scientific Leadership and Management Skills (SLMS) Course

Other workshops:

  • Grant Writing, Science Writing, Presentation, and other Communications Skills*
  • Creating an inclusive research environment (DEI training)
  • Mentorship*

Experiential Learning

  • Protocol review
  • Grant review
  • Meeting presentations (including HDFCCC Community Advisory Board)
  • Teaching
RCR Training Activities
Activity Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
RCR course (EPI 201) X              

K12 5-day Bootcamp: Clinically driven discovery science in cancer

  • Biospecimen stewardship (handling, processing, annotation)
  • The role of community engagement in translational research
Bioethics in translational research

K12 Seminar Series: From concept to completion: Strategies for successful cancer clinical trials (every other throughout)

  • Ethics and subject protection (vulnerable populations, children, and patients with limited English proficiency)
  • Operational excellence and regulatory compliance (e.g., correcting and reporting errors/deviations, preparing for audits)
Special populations and strategies to reduce disparities in oncology; overseeing multicenter clinical trials
  X X X X X X X
Shadow Institutional Review Board Meeting           X*    
HDFCCC Site Committee participation (throughout) X X X X X X X X

Attend HDFCCC Data Safety Monitoring Committee Meeting

*anytime during 2nd year


RFA information below. Applications now closed.

For questions, email Jennifer Seuferer .


The goal of the HDFCCC Physician Scholar Program in Clinical Oncology (PSPCO) is to foster the development of the next generation of clinical scientists to be effective partners with discovery scientists and conduct high impact and innovative patient-centered cancer research. The PSPCO will be housed in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC), bringing to bear the exceptional research, clinical, and training environment of one of the world’s leading health sciences institutes. Building on recent research and technology advancements and key areas for training identified in the HDFCCC strategic review, this multidisciplinary training program will leverage strengths in basic cancer research, experimental therapeutics, and clinical research methodology. An accomplished group of faculty mentors will bring expertise in cancer-related clinical and translational research, imaging, patient-reported outcomes, biomarkers, healthcare disparities, community engagement, and biostatistics.

The two-year Program, which incorporates mentored research, career development guidance, and a core curriculum, is designed to facilitate completion of the year-long Advanced Training in Clinic Research certificate program in epidemiologic and biostatistical methods in Year 1. Year 2 will focus on mentored research, professional skills, and achieving independence. Each Scholar will work with at least one clinically focused and one laboratory-based mentor on their career development committee to design an individual career development plan (ICDP). The ICDP will outline goals and tailored didactic and hands-on training experiences (including short clinical and laboratory rotations, grant-writing workshops, etc.) that will ensure competency across four core areas: (1) clinical research methods; (2) principles of translational cancer research and drug development; (3) academic success skills and (4) responsible conduct of research. Upon completion, scholars will have the tools to lead independent, rigorous, and impactful patient-centered clinical research programs.

Applicant Eligibility Requirements

  • Junior investigator within 5 years of a faculty appointment who has not yet reached research independence. Senior clinical fellows who will have faculty status at UCSF by the time the funding period begins are also eligible
  • Evidence of MD degree
  • US citizen, noncitizen national of the United States, or lawfully admitted permanent resident at the time of application.
  • Commitment to devote at least 75% professional effort to research and PSPCO-related to career development and training activities (including all relevant didactic activities during the period of the award)
  • Interest in patient-facing clinical or translational research
  • Primary research mentor identified at UCSF
  • Individuals from historically marginalized groups are encouraged to apply

In addition, the Scholar’s home department/division must commit to ensuring 75% protected time for the Scholar’s research and PSPCO activities and must agree to cover approximately half of the over-the-cap scholar salary. The Cancer Center will support half of over-the-cap excess trainee salary for 75% effort at a maximum full-time salary of $214,000 ($160,500 at 75% effort) and associated fringe benefits. While this support will be calculated to actual salary and benefits, the maximum Cancer Center support per trainee will be $38,221 a year, assuming a full FTE salary of $214,000 and a fringe benefit rate of 26.35%. The maximum number of trainees per year is 2 as capped by the K12 budget. The five department/divisions list below have already agreed to provide this level of support for PSPCO scholars:

  • Department of Pediatrics/Division of Hematology-Oncology
  • Department of Medicine/Division of Hematology-Oncology
  • Department of Radiation-Oncology
  • Department of Surgery
  • Department of Neurological Surgery/Division of Neurological Surgery

If you do not have a primary appointment in one of the above departments/divisions, you may still apply but must provide a letter of support from your department/division head stating they will provide the requested level of support as stated above and your department/division head will need to sign a MOU with the Cancer Center (template below).

Current or previous NIH K award recipients are not eligible to apply.

Award Amount and Terms

The K12 grant will provide salary support up to $100,000 per year plus fringe benefits based on a full-time appointment, for up to two years of funding. Research and development support up to $30,000 per year may be provided for the following expenses:

  • Research expenses, such as supplies, equipment, and technical personnel
  • Tuition and fees related to required career development courses and activities
  • Travel to research meetings or trainings
  • Statistical services, including, personnel and computer time

Scholar Selection Criteria

Each cycle, a quorum of ten members of the PSPCO Advisory Committee will review applications and select Scholars using a process modeled on NIH peer review. The selection process and interviews will occur in January 2021, applicants will be informed in February, and the program will begin July 1, 2022.

Selection criteria will focus on the demonstrated strengths and future potential of the candidate for a career in patient-facing cancer research, and their commitment to the UCSF PRIDE Values. Selection criteria will include:

  • Prior research productivity, and accomplishments
  • Strength and feasibility of the training plan
  • Candidates’ potential for success
  • Support from the scholar’s research mentor and department for the two-year duration of the program
  • Quality, feasibility, and potential for success of the research protocol
  • Commitment to the K12 program
  • Contribution to diversity
  • Suitability of mentor

Proposal Guidelines

You must submit all of the following, in the order listed below, as a single PDF file (11pt Arial, 1.5 line spacing). There is a place for you to upload the PDF at the end of the online application. 

  • Applicant biosketch (NIH style/guidelines) and document with list of Other Support
  • Applicant’s primary mentor’s biosketch (NIH style)
  • List of all publications, noting those for which you are first author
  • Statement of background, interests, and educational plan (max. 3 pages)
  • Research proposal (max. 3 pages)
  • Diversity statement (max. 1 page) - UCSF is committed to excellence and equity in every facet of its mission. Contributions in all areas that promote equal opportunity and diversity will be given due recognition in the review process. The diversity statement provides the opportunity for  highlighting your contributions to diversity. You should continue to list all academic contributions under the appropriate sections of your biosketch; here you may emphasize the impact of these contributions on diversity at UCSF and beyond. Examples include:
    • Teaching, Mentoring, or University and Public Service activities that address the needs of diverse populations
    • Clinical activities for diverse patient populations
    • Efforts to advance access to education
    • Research that highlights inequalities
  • 3 letters of support:
    • Applicant’s primary research mentor
    • Disease group leader or someone else in the applicant’s research or clinical program area. If applicant is still a trainee, the letter should be written by the applicant’s training program director.
    • Department Chair or Division Chief statement addressing suitability of candidate, commitment to ensuring Scholar has 75% protected time for research and PSPCO activities, adequacy of space and resources to perform mentored research, and support for candidate’s career development.
  • Proof applicant is a US citizen, noncitizen national of the United States, or lawfully admitted for permanent residence at time of application
  • Proof of MD degree

Applicants NOT from the following departments/divisions will require a signed MOU (template found here) by their department/division to show financial commitment.

  • Department of Pediatrics/Division of Hematology-Oncology
  • Department of Medicine/Division of Hematology-Oncology
  • Department of Radiation-Oncology
  • Department of Surgery
  • Department of Neurological Surgery/Division of Neurological Surgery

Applications are by December 3, 2021 at 3:00pm.