The Vanderbilt Urologic Oncology Fellowship is accredited by the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) and was established in 2007. The fellowship is designed to prepare selected candidates for careers as leaders in academic Urologic Oncology. Vanderbilt is a high-volume regional and national referral center for all types of urologic malignancies. There are currently seven fellowship-trained Urologic Oncologists representing five different U.S. Uro-oncology fellowships.
Click here for the 2014 SUO Fellowship Match Timeline.
The Vanderbilt fellowship was founded by the Chairman of the Department of Urologic Surgery, Dr. Joseph A. Smith, Jr. The Fellowship Program Director is Dr. Michael S. Cookson, who oversees the clinical and didactic components of the fellowship. The Uro-oncology staff includes Drs. Daniel A. Barocas. Sam S. Chang, Peter E. Clark and David F. Penson. Collectively, they possess a wealth of clinical training and expertise, including the most up to date laparoscopic, robotic-assisted laparoscopic, and ablative techniques. Each is active in clinical and translational research and well represented in national and international committees. This includes membership on the American Urologic Association’s (AUA) clinical guidelines committee panel on Noninvasive Bladder Cancer and Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer, participation in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines on Prostate Cancer Screening as well as the American Joint Task Force on Cancer Staging and AUA’s Research Council to name a few. The faculty are committed to education as evidenced by participation in the AUA/ABU examination committee and the SUO’s Oncology Knowledge Assessment Examination (OKAT). They are also well represented on the editorial staff of important journals including the Journal of Urology and Cancer. In addition to the clinical activities, there are five research laboratories in the department run by four independently funded PhD scientists and one MD, with consistent excellence in grant funding, research publication and training of fellows.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a world-class institution, ranked 11th in NIH research funding for 2010. The Medical Center is home to a variety of clinical, academic and research resources, including the NCI-accredited Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and lies adjacent to the Veterans Hospital and Vanderbilt University.
The objectives of the Fellowship are consistent with its SUO accreditation. The Fellowship aims to provide comprehensive training in the evaluation and management of urologic malignancies, as well as the tools to evaluate and contribute to the research in this field. Specifically, the Fellow will acquire advanced expertise in the multidisciplinary management of urologic cancers, including the ability to apply the critical principles of radiation oncology, medical oncology, urologic imaging and pathology. The Fellow will also acquire advanced understanding of the biology of urologic malignancies through clinical experiences, self-directed learning, the Urologic Oncology curriculum, and research endeavors. The Fellows will learn the important aspects of study design, biostatistics, clinical trials, data analysis, scientific methodology and laboratory research.
The Fellowship is two years in length, with the first year dedicated to clinical training and the second year dedicated to research. In the clinical year, the focus is on the acquisition of surgical skills and clinical acumen. The surgical training is intensive and includes hands-on experience in open surgery, laparoscopy, robotic and energy-ablative techniques. One day each week is spent in the clinic, learning the intricacies of the multidisciplinary management of urologic cancers.
In the second year, the Fellow will initiate a research project under the guidance of a research mentor. The aims are to acquire research skills that can be applied to a career in academic Urologic Oncology and to make significant contributions to the understanding of Urologic Oncology. Many fellows will work in one of the department’s research laboratories. Possible mentors include Simon Hayward, PhD, Robert Matusik, PhD, and Peter Clark, MD. Dr. Hayward’s lab has substantial expertise in stromal-epithelial interactions in prostate cancer as well as prostate cancer xenografts. Dr. Matusik’s research focus in on androgen regulation of gene expression, and his lab has developed novel transgenic mouse models for prostate cancer. Dr. Clark is a prototypical “surgeon scientist” with research interests in Wilms’ Tumor and Renal Cell Carcinoma. His lab has developed a novel transgenic mouse model of Wilms’ Tumor.
Some fellows may elect to focus on health services research, possibly dedicating an additional year to the completion of an advanced degree, such as a Master in Public Health or a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation. Fellows will work with Dr. David Penson, MD, MPH, Director of the Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research at Vanderbilt, one of the national leaders of health services research. Dr. Penson is PI of the Comparative Effectiveness Analysis of Surgery and Radiation (CEASAR) study on prostate cancer and was awarded a $7.6 million dollar stimulus grant for the study. Daniel Barocas, MD, MPH, is a co-investigator on this study and is another member of the Urology faculty with expertise in health services research.
Throughout the two year program, the Fellow will play an active role in tumor board conferences and the didactic lecture series, as well as the multidisciplinary “cancer club” conference. These conferences provide a framework for learning the biology of urologic cancers and a stimulus for further investigation.
Admission is contingent upon completion of an ACGME accredited urologic training program. Accordingly, applicants must have taken or be registered to take the qualifying portion (Part I) of the American Board of Urology exam or be board certified by the ABU.
Application to the Program
Application to the Fellowship in Urologic Oncology should be made at least 19 months prior to the completion of residency (i.e., by March 1 of the year preceding the chief residency year). Interested candidates should forward a copy of their CV, personal statement and 2 letters of reference including a letter of support from their program director and an additional letter from a faculty member recommending them for the fellowship and attesting to the candidate's successful completion of the urology training program.
Letters should be addressed to Michael S. Cookson, MD, Fellowship Program Director, Department of Urologic Surgery, A1302 MCN, Nashville, TN 37232 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to email@example.com.