HDFCCC K12 Physician Scientist 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. Application for our 2023 cohort of scholars due Jan. 13, 2023 at 12pm. More information belowQuestions? Email Jennifer Seuferer.

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HDFCCC K12 Physician Scholar Program in Clinical Oncology (PSPCO)

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 allow completion of the year-long Advanced Training in Clinic Research certificate program (or just ad hoc classes from the 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.

The PSPCO seeks to recruit Scholars from diverse disciplinary and demographic backgrounds. Scholars must have MDs or MD/PhDs, have completed residency/fellowship training, and be committed to a career in patient-facing clinical-translational cancer research. They can have varying levels of clinical research experience and prior exposure to patient-facing research but the research project they propose must be patient-facing. The Program is structured to meet different needs. For example, there are several options for clinical research training, ranging from elective courses to a master’s degree in Clinical Research. In addition, Scholars will be able to tailor their experiential learning, coursework, workshops, and 1:1 mentoring with Mentors to build on their prior training and research experiences

Applicant Eligibility Requirements
  • Junior investigator within 5 years of a faculty appointment at the time of application and 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
  • Must be performing patient-facing research
  • 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 at bottom). Current or previous NIH K award recipients are not eligible to apply.

Proposal Guidelines

Applicants should submit the following, in the order listed below, as a single PDF file (11pt Arial, 1.5 line spacing):

  • Cover letter/information sheet (see template)
  • Applicants from Departments/Divisions not listed in the Applicant Eligibility Requirements Section will require a signed MOU (template provided below) by their department/division to show financial commitment
  • 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/training plan (max. 3 pages). Training plan must include biostatistics training unless applicant has already received previously.
  • Research proposal (max. 3 pages)
  • Post program career goals (max. 1 page)
    • What are your career goals after the program?
    • How will this program help you meet those goals?
    • In what ways are you preparing yourself to successfully meet your career goals?
  • 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
PSPCO Training Plan

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:

Activity Descriptions:

  • From Concept to Completion: Strategies for Successful Cancer Clinical Trials. Aimed at providing high-yield, practical information about designing, funding, and conducting patient-facing trials (Faculty leads: Pamela Munster, MD, Emily Bergsland, MD, Katie Kelley, MD, Elliot Stieglitz, MD)  
  • Clinically Driven Discovery Science in Cancer: From the Bench to Bedside This five-day workshop in Year 1 will provide a forum for reviewing basic principles of transdisciplinary research, drug discovery, and translational cancer research, along with networking opportunities with and exposure to basic cancer researchers. (Faculty leads: Trever Bivona MD/PhD, Felix Feng, MD and Michelle Arkin, PhD)  
  • Career Development Topics: Topics will include supplemental training (not otherwise covered by other required trainings) related to mentoring, presentation and teaching skills, wellness, promoting an inclusive environment, strategic service roles (e.g., editorial boards, NIH study sections, grant review committees), navigating obstacles (trial closures, funding gaps, conflicts), and maximizing the impact of one’s work.

  • HDFCCC Leadership Seminar for Early Career Scientists: This new cancer-specific program will provide instruction from HDFCCC leaders about cancer center organizational structure, leadership positions and other avenues for involvement within the HDFCCC, and leveraging and building connections in oncology. It will synergize with HDFCCC efforts to prioritize education, mentoring, and succession planning.

  • Bridging the Gap Seminar - 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 - Customized to each scholars interests and needs. Examples of possible activities are:

    • 6 week clinical research rotations

    • HDFCCC Site Committee Attendance

    • IRB Meeting Attendance 

    • HDFCCC Protocol Review Committee 

    • HDFCCC Data Safety Monitoring Committee

    • HDFCCC Community Advisory Board Meeting

Mentoring: Each scholar will be required to form a Career Development Committee (CDC). The CDC ensures a systematic and structured approach to career development. Membership of each Scholar’s CDC will include:

  • Both K12 Program Directors
  • The Primary Research Mentor. Scholars will choose from among the PSPCO Primary (Clinical) Mentors named in the grant who are experts in clinical/translational cancer research. Scholars will be permitted to draw on other faculty with appropriate expertise as co-mentors or primary mentors with approval of the Program Directors.
  • The Secondary Research Mentor: Scholars will choose from among the Secondary (Basic Science) Mentors named on the grant.
  • The Ad Hoc Mentor (if applicable) or faculty with specific expertise in the topics to be covered at a particular meeting. 
  • A Career Mentor who does not need to be an expert in the Scholar’s area of research but has an excellent grasp of general career development issues. This Mentor does not need to be a named on the grant.
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, applicants will be informed in February/March, and the program will begin on July 1.

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


Upcoming K12 Program Seminars

Engaging Community in Your Work - How to Do it and Why it Matters, Jan. 26, 2-4pm


Learning objectives for this seminar:

  • Explain what is meant by this statement: "Meaningful community engagement requires putting community at the center of the research." – Kim Rhoads
  • Describe the spectrum of approaches to community engaged research and the different points in a project where community contributions can make a difference. – Susan Chang
  • Discuss the different between community engagement and clinical trial recruitment and retention  - Elliot Stieglitz

Speakers: Elliot Stieglitz, MD, Assistant Professor, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, UCSF;  Kim Rhoads, MD, MS, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics UCSF; Director, Office of Community Engagement, HDFCCC Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement; Susan Chang, MD, Professor in Residence, Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF; Co-Leader, HDFCCC Neurologic Oncology Program

From Concept to Completion, Strategies for Successful Clinical Trials Certificate

Part of the HDFCCC K12 Physician Scientist Program in Clinical Oncology (PSPCO), this series of seminars will provide high-yield, practical information about designing, funding, and conducting patient-facing oncology trials. Each year 7 seminars are offered. To receive a certificate of completion you must attend 6 out of the 7 with in two years. Open to senior fellows and early career faculty.

July 2022 – June 2023 
Feb 23, 2023 - Clinical trial design and data analysis 
July 2023-June 2024 
Aug 2023: Protocol structure & review 
Aug 2023: Fostering diversity in clinical research 
Nov 2023: Types of Trials/sponsors & general activation process 
Nov 2023: Informed consent & clinical trial ethics 
Feb 2024: Clinical trial design and data analysis 
Feb 2024: Clinical outcomes research, PROs & database topics 
May 2024: Building your research portfolio & keeping it in the black 


Clinically Driven Discovery Science in Cancer - From Bench to Bedside Workshop

July 2023 - Exact dates TBD

Lead by Michelle Arkin, PhD, Felix Feng, MD, and Trever Bivona, MD/PhD

This workshop will provide training and a rigorous foundation for hypothesis-driven patient-focused research, covering clinical and preclinical iteration. Participants will participate in interactive didactic and individualized discussions that culminate in a translational and/or clinical research protocol synopsis focused on testing a patient-centered hypothesis of their interest(s). 

Open to oncology senior fellows and early career faculty.

Topics include, preclinical foundations & case studies, pharmacodynamic studies & biomarkers, combination studies, and synopsis of clinical trial design.

Must attend each day.

Register Here

Leadership and Career Development Seminars

These seminars provides career development and leadership training for physician scientists. The Leadership Seminars provide an opportunity for promising early career faculty to have networking opportunities and instruction from HDFCCC leaders.

Open to senior fellows and faculty

Jan 2023Engaging Community in Your Work - How to do it and Why it Matters. Speakers TBD

April 2023 – Building, Leading & Sustaining an Effective Team, Including Planning for Funding. Speakers TBD

Register Here