Understanding cancer risks and outcomes

Investigate the risk factors for cancer to improve prevention efforts and risk reduction. Identify markers of early detection and diagnosis. Study and work with high-risk populations. Engage in intervention studies to prevent cancer development and improve prognosis. Research the role of gene-environment interactions and molecular epidemiology.

If you’re ready to make an immediate impact in oncology research, the Cancer Prevention PhD track at Roswell Park gives you both the focus and the freedom to follow your scientific interests.

The Cancer Prevention PhD allows for research programs that combines population-based research and laboratory-based research.

Cancer prevention is a mandated research area for all NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers like Roswell Park, and the depth and breadth of our research is unmatched.

Track highlights

Most students will be paired with a primary mentor during the first year in the program. You’ll spend the first two years taking the required didactic courses, including cancer science, research methods, statistics, ethics and basic science. You’ll also have the opportunity to initiate or contribute to research projects.

During the next 2-3 years, you’ll work full time on your dissertation research, with training and mentoring from experienced and renowned research scientists. All faculty members are well-published and excel in teaching; many hold senior leadership positions as well.

Roswell Park offers numerous onsite seminars and education programs, including:

  • Faculty Forum: Lectures given by internationally acclaimed cancer researchers from around the country
  • Population Sciences Grand Rounds: Advances in cancer prevention and population health research presented by nationally and internationally renowned invited outside speakers and Roswell Park staff
  • Journal Club: High impact publications will be discussed by faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students in a strong, interactive learning environment.
  • Work-in Progress Meetings: New or on-going research concepts will be discussed by faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students to provide feedback on the merit and future directions of the presented work.

In addition, you can take advantage of seminars at the University of Buffalo, including Epidemiology and Environmental Health, Community Health and Health Behavior, and the Research Institute on Addictions.

Research areas

A wide range of cutting-edge research is ongoing, including:

  • Cancer epidemiology to identify modifiable risk and prognostic factors
  • Development and application of risk and prognostic biomarkers
  • Intervention trials for cancer risk reduction
  • Intervention trials for prognostic benefits
  • Population-based studies of Omics (i.e., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, etc.)
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Cancer health disparities
  • Tobacco regulatory science
  • Tobacco cessation

Additional information about our research can be found on our individual faculty pages.

Program of study

After completing prescribed courses, doctoral students are expected to pursue research relevant to their theses. A minimum 72 credit hours is required, which may include applicable master’s degree credits. Research leading to a doctoral degree requires at least two years of full-time research in addition to fulfilling the course requirements.

During the first two years, candidates are expected to take examinations as required in their individual courses. At the end of the second year, students are required to pass a separate qualifying examination, which consists of written and oral sections. A written dissertation and oral defense of the thesis is required for graduation.

You must achieve a grade of “B” or better in the mandatory and elective courses. Elective courses are selected with your mentor to enhance your knowledge in the scientific areas most relevant to your anticipated doctoral research topic.

Course Number Course Title
RPN 530/532 Oncology for Scientists
BCH 503 Biochemical Principles
RPN 525 Cancer Epidemiology
PTR 538 Techniques in Pathology
STA 527 Introduction to Statistics
PTR 536 Cancer Pathology
MIC 512 Fundamentals of Immunology
PTR 500 Cancer Control & Prevention
PTR 505/506 Recent Advances in Pathology Seminar
PTR 509/510 Laboratory Rotations
PTR 601 Graduate Research
Course Number Course Title
PMR 515 Principles of Cancer Chemotherapy
BIO 500 Bioinformatics/Genome Analysis
BIR 572 Regulatory Mechanisms of Cell Biology
BCH 508 Gene Expression
BIR 613 Viral Oncology
MIR 511 Molecular Immunology
MIR 508 Advanced Immunology
PTR 502 Analysis of Health Related Data
PTR 528 Tobacco Control

How to apply

The next program year for doctoral study at Roswell Park is Fall 2022, and applications are due by December 6, 2021.

Contact information

For more information on the Cancer Prevention Ph.D. Track at Roswell Park, connect with:

Alicia Tuyn
Department Administrator

Cancer Prevention Track
Roswell Park Graduate Division
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
Elm and Carlton Streets
Buffalo, New York 14263