Cancer Prevention Interdisciplinary Education Program (CPIP)

Program Goals

The Cancer Prevention Internship Program (CPIP) is a unique partnership with faculty partnering with the Oncological Sciences Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Discovery Learning Center, both in Discovery Park at Purdue University. The CPIP is designed to attract bright young scientists in to the field of cancer prevention, and providing educational and research opportunities that will support continued student interest and maximize abilities to complete innovative, interdisciplinary research in cancer prevention. Interdisciplinary educational efforts in cancer prevention early in a scientist’s career will contribute to the creation of a new pool of researchers with a broad understanding of the complex physiologic, psychological, and sociologic factors influencing cancer prevention, and the development of a community of cancer prevention researchers. This broadly trained community of scientists will be well suited to identifying, developing, and implementing cancer prevention strategies, ultimately leading to reduced development of cancers and subsequent cancer deaths.

The goals of cancer prevention research are to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality due to cancer. This is accomplished by understanding and modifying behaviors that increase risk, mitigating the influence of genetic and environmental risk factors, and interrupting carcinogenesis through early medical intervention. Primary prevention is the most effective approach, reducing the probability that the first initiated tumor cell will occur. The American Cancer Society estimated that 564,830 cancer deaths will occur in the United States in 2006, and that 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented through cancer prevention strategies by modifiable lifestyle factors and appropriate use of available screening for early detection of cancers. For example, there is evidence that one third of cancer deaths are related to diet. It is estimated that 30% or 170,000 cancer deaths in the United States in 2006 will be caused by tobacco use. Other modifiable factors known to increase the risk of cancers include environmental exposures, obesity, and lack of physical activity.

There is a clear need for innovative strategies to apply new research to reduce cancer rates. If proven cancer prevention methods were employed in a sustainable manner, an estimated 19% decline in new cancer cases and a 29% decline in the rate of cancer deaths could be achieved by 2015. This equates to 100,000 cancer cases and 60,000 cancer deaths each year by 2015. In a report by the NCI-designated cancer center directors, two key strategies were identified to effectively reduce the national cancer burden: action-oriented research and interdisciplinary research that synergizes research in informatics, human genetics, functional genomics, imaging and systems thinking, and behavioral sciences. Thus, training researchers to communicate and create cross-discipline, synergistic teams able to effectively impact the cancer prevention field are needed. Recruiting young scientists to the field and promoting interdisciplinary approaches at an early stage in a researcher’s career is a novel approach to reducing barriers, thus aiding in encouraging optimal progress in cancer prevention research.