About the Fellowship Program in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
The largest accredited fellowship program in the country and among the finest in the nation is located at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. Our experts are training board-eligible and board-certified pediatricians to become sub-specialists in pediatric hematology-oncology.
As one of the finest pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship programs in the nation, our centers are training fellows to obtain outstanding clinical and laboratory research knowledge, paving the future of pediatric cancer and blood disorder care.
Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine collaborate to offer one of the finest pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship programs in the nation. The large array of clinical service opportunities, preeminent faculty, and state-of-the-art research programs of these top institutions provide an excellent setting for this specialized training.
Designed to prepare M.D.s and M.D./Ph.D.s for academic careers, this ACGME-accredited comprehensive training program affords opportunities for fellows to work alongside renowned faculty physicians to gain valuable in-depth clinical and laboratory research experience. 8 new fellows are recruited annually through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Trainees who complete this program acquire outstanding clinical experience and are firmly grounded in the intricacies of their specialty areas. In addition, fellows receive specialized laboratory or clinical research training experience and are propelled to become leaders in their field.
Over 2,000 new pediatric patients with cancer and hematologic disorders are referred to Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers (TXCH) each year. Consequently, fellows participate in the evaluation and development of a wide variety of clinical pediatric hematologic and oncologic problems. Although formal fellowship training in pediatric hematology-oncology ordinarily involves a 3 year training period, we highly encourage our trainees to pursue a fourth year of training. (See Fourth year Opportunities.)
Throughout the period of training, experienced faculty members guide each fellow to ensure that he or she develops and acquires excellent clinical, research and leadership skills. The initial 13 months of training are dedicated to obtaining comprehensive clinical skills in pediatric hematology and oncology. During this period, fellows select a clinical research or laboratory research experience to pursue in their second and third years. Fellows are encouraged to pursue an additional fourth year of training in their area of research.
The large clinical service and state-of-the-art research programs at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers (TXCH) and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) provide a unique training experience for our fellows. Approximately 800 new pediatric cancer patients, and more than 1,200 new patients with hematologic disorders, are referred each year to TXCH. Virtually every form of childhood cancer and blood disorder is represented in our patient population. As a result, the program offers in depth exposure to a multitude of pediatric hematologic and oncologic problems. The carefully supervised training environment is overseen by highly experienced and qualified attending faculty. As the fellows’ knowledge and experience increase, so does their level of clinical responsibility.
Performance Feedback and Evaluations
Trainees participate in formal and informal performance evaluations, as well as feedback conferences, throughout all rotations in the training program. These mutual evaluations are accomplished electronically using the E*Value program implemented by Baylor College of Medicine. Formal evaluations of conference presentations, clinical rotations, and overall performance reports are reviewed with the trainee on a regular basis.
In addition, each fellow meets twice yearly with the Chief of Service, Dr. David Poplack, and the program coordinators, Dr. Phil Steuber and Dr. Youngna Lee-Kim. They review the fellows’ evaluations and overall progress as well as their Individualized Learning Programs (ILPs). Drs. Poplack, Lee-Kim, and Steuber meet with the fellows as a group on a monthly basis to address programmatic issues. These meetings provide fellows with an opportunity to discuss issues regarding the curriculum and its implementation. The meetings also serve as a forum to resolve issues that are identified as impediments to the learning experience.
Incoming fellows are provided with personal copies of textbooks relating to pediatric hematology and oncology; thereafter, the fellows are provided with an annual book allowance.
Financial Support for National Scientific Meetings
Financial support is also provided for attendance at one national scientific meeting annually. In addition, second- and third-year fellows are encouraged to participate in conferences and meetings that relate to their chosen fields of research. Fellows receive support to present their work in poster or platform format at these meetings.
Funding for all fellows’ salaries is guaranteed for the three or four years of their fellowship training. Because writing and obtaining grants is a critically important aspect of an academic research career in pediatric hematology-oncology, all fellows are encouraged to write a grant proposal in support of their research. Comprehensive instruction and training in grant proposal preparation is an important component of this fellowship program. Each fellow receives in-depth supervision and support in the identification, preparation, and submission of grants to both NIH and non-federal granting agencies. In addition to the individuals’ research mentors, TXCH has 3 experienced Research Service Coordinators who work closely with the fellows to facilitate this process.
Each second-year fellow has an opportunity to take advantage of the expertise and resources of the research services staff, which help locate grant opportunities that match each fellow’s level of training, expertise, and area of interest. An individualized plan is developed for each fellow that focuses on career development in basic or clinical research. Once a grant opportunity has been matched to a fellow, research services staff members provide a written outline of the grant application, timeline, and budget calculations. They also assist with writing and routing the proposal through the Department of Pediatrics and Baylor College of Medicine’s Office of Research. TXCH sponsors a web page that serves as a resource for fellow seeking grants. The web page provides key information, including a calendar of grant application deadlines, patient demographics, links to funding sources, and instructions on applying for use of humans and animals in research.
Training in a Community on the Mexican Border
Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers has an outreach clinic in the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas. The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic has 4 full-time pediatric hematology-oncology faculty members who saw more than 2,000 patients with cancer or hematologic disorders in the first 4 years of the clinic’s operation. The McAllen area was previously an underserved area with a large Spanish-speaking population. As an elective in the senior years of training, fellows may take the opportunity to work in this environment as an elective during their senior years of training. The opportunity allows them to observe a pediatric hematology-oncology practice in a border community setting.
Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers has established close collaborative interactions with several programs internationally. Depending on their research interests and progress, fellows who elect to stay for a fourth year may spend an elective in one of several collaborating institutions internationally. International opportunities include sites in Italy, France, Oman, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
Global Health Opportunities
The Department of Pediatrics at BCM offers the only approved global health residency program in the United States.
The Hematology-Oncology Section, as well as the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, has a long-standing commitment to involvement in global health initiatives.
For those fellows who are interested, the Hematology-Oncology Section provides a variety of opportunities to participate in international experiences in both oncology and hematology. These activities occur, for the most part, in Sub-Saharan Africa but are also available in India and in Central and South America. A variety of research, educational and clinical opportunities are available.
In the second and third years of fellowship, trainees may choose to participate in ongoing global health efforts or to develop new ones. It is recommended that fellows choosing to pursue this career pathway obtain a Masters Degree in Epidemiology or Public Health. While the ability to train and work abroad is somewhat restricted in the first three years of the ACGME-accredited fellowship program, the recommended fourth year of our training program may be spent entirely out of the country, if appropriate.
A variety of programs leading to advanced degrees become available to fellows after they complete the initial 13 months of clinical training. These pathways fulfill the requisite fellowship research experience and, in addition, may lead to a master’s or doctorate degree.
Basic Science Degrees
Fellows may apply to the Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School and work towards a PhD in a basic science discipline. Degree credits may be earned while working in a pediatric hematology-oncology program laboratory, with faculty who have appointments in the basic science departments.
Public Health and Epidemiology
Fellows may choose to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) through concurrent enrollment in the University of Texas School of Public Health, which is within walking distance of Texas Children’s Hospital. Fellows can pursue an MPH or PhD in epidemiology with mentorship from the pediatric hematology-oncology faculty who are members of the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program.
Baylor College of Medicine has an organized curriculum in clinical research that offers the potential to receive either an MA or a PhD. An NIH K30 award supports this Clinical Scientist Training Program. Fellows are eligible to participate in this program that is oriented to train individuals for academic careers in clinical research.
Faculty Fellowship in Pediatric Oncology Clinical Research
Fellows who continue for a fourth year are eligible to apply for a unique NIH K12 award. The award offers three years of direct mentorship and training in advanced clinical research. This program provides the participant an opportunity to receive career development training in one of 5 specific tracks, including: Leukemia, Solid Tumors, Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation, Cancer Genetics, and Neuro-oncology. Acceptance into this program includes salary support for a 3-year period.
Clinical Pharmacology Training
The clinical and laboratory research program in clinical pharmacology is exceptionally strong at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. The program is the only site of 13 NIH-funded Pediatric Pharmacology Research Units in the United States. Pediatric hematology-oncology fellows who are interested in a cancer pharmacology career may participate in the Baylor College of Medicine Clinical Pharmacology Fellowship Training Program. These fellows pursue research in the laboratories of the Center’s Developmental Therapeutics Program during their second and third years of fellowship. Their fourth year is spent in didactic coursework offered at the University of Houston School of Pharmacy, located in the Texas Medical Center. During their fifth year, individuals rotate through several different clinical pharmacology rotations, and become eligible to sit for Board Clinical Pharmacology.
Cancer Center faculty, staff, and fellows are intimately involved in the camping opportunities for the patient population. Camp Periwinkle is a weeklong summer camp experience is provided for children ages 7-15 with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Camp YOLO is a weekend camp is offered every fall and spring to teenagers with chronic illnesses. Participation is optional. Second- and third-year fellows may choose to become involved with these experiences as senior counselors.