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  • An important focus of the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology (CIV) is the training of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in basic immunological mechanisms and novel therapeutic approaches – spanning the spectrum from human retrovirology, to structural biology, cellular therapies, and immunology. We currently offer more than 115 pre- and post-doctoral researchers a training environment full of invaluable scientific resources and other support services to help them advance a career. The collaborative culture at Dana-Farber and its surrounding affiliations makes for an inspiring, enriching, and unique experience. Dana-Farber’s unique bench-to-bedside research mission, along with Boston’s vast resources, adds to the diverse opportunities available to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows during and after their training.

    Department faculty members participate in teaching and training at the pre- and post-doctoral level and have a strong mentoring ethic. The Institute is part of the vibrant Program in Immunology and Virology at Harvard Medical School. Together they offer outstanding technical resources in many areas, including mass cytometry, flow cytometry, imaging, proteomics, genomics, and other cutting-edge developing technologies.

    Graduate Students

    Graduate education is coordinated by the Division of Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School (HMS), where prospective students may apply for graduate programs in Immunology, Virology, and Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), as well as specialized graduate training offered by the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine program at Harvard. Following acceptance into the program, students are required to rotate in three laboratories before choosing their formal thesis advisor. For more information on these programs and the admissions process, please visit the HMS Division of Medical Sciences.

    In addition, many of our faculty accept graduate students who are enrolled in an accredited graduate program and are interested in either completing their thesis in the lab or spending greater than six months. This includes programs that are both foreign and domestic.

    Post-doctoral Training

    Postgraduate researchers are a vital part of the research and education infrastructure of the department, making significant contributions to the department’s success. We view training of post-doctoral fellows as training of the next generation of scientists who will be leading the charge in immunology and virology. We have various professional development opportunities for fellows. This includes everything from a T32 mentoring program, to fellowship/grant strategy meetings, weekly research-in-progress meetings, and yearly research career developing plans. This is already on top of the rich environment and endless opportunities to collaborate with other basic scientists and clinicians in the Harvard community.

    Because Dana-Farber is a close teaching affiliate of HMS, incoming post-doctoral fellows on an academic track are nominated for an academic HMS appointment. This second appointment grants Dana-Farber post-doctoral fellows access to various useful HMS services and privileges associated with officers of Harvard University, such as their shuttle buses, core facilities, library, online databases, and software. In addition, Harvard has its own set up of professional development opportunities – from career panels, to well-known speakers, and socials to get to know colleagues in the community. These create a very enriching environment for our faculty and staff.

    Resources for Graduate Students and Post-doctoral Fellows

    Dana-Farber and the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology strive to provide graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with the skills and resources they need during their training to help them flourish in both their professional and personal lives.

    Our post-doctoral fellows receive a generous and highly competitive salary, with yearly increases and a benefits program designed to meet the various needs of a diverse staff. Our visa specialists assist international graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in securing appropriate visas for the duration of their training.

    Dana-Farber has a Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office (PGSAO) in place to promote the education and career growth of post-doctoral fellows and graduate students at the Institute. PGSAO helps to expand on laboratory-based research training by offering a variety of services for enhancing professional development. This includes practice chalk-talks, poster presentations, symposia on important topics, and various retreats.

    Recognizing the importance of funding to a postdoc’s career, Dana-Farber and the department provide extensive support for post-doctoral fellows, such as identifying fellowship opportunities during their training and assisting in the application process. In addition to everyday assistance, the Business Office offers regular fellowship strategy meetings to review application guidelines, proposals, and administrative items. They support in locating opportunities, preparing applications, and walking fellows through the submission process.

    Career Development

    We are determined to help graduate students and post-doctoral researchers obtain the skills and resources they need for a successful career. This support takes many forms, including close mentoring, and a variety of workshops and seminars not only at Dana-Farber, but all of its surrounding affiliate institutions.

    Mentoring is a crucial aspect of post-doctoral training at CIV, and includes regular discussions about the progress of specific research projects as well as career goals. In addition, CIV requires post-doctoral fellows to meet annually with their PI prior to the renewal of their post-doctoral appointments. The purpose of this meeting is not only to discuss progress and performance for the past year, but also career goals, and assessing skills and accomplishments necessary for achieving those goals.

    Additionally, we encourage data-sharing through weekly cancer immunology and virology Research-in-Progress meetings, at which all graduate students and fellows present once per year.

    The department also organizes regular networking events with CIV alumni across various sectors.

    Life at CIV and in Boston

    Nearly 120 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from around the globe are currently doing research in faculty laboratories within CIV. We strive to offer opportunities to socialize, enjoy city life, and contribute to the professional environment at Dana-Farber.

    The Institute employs over 4,500 people supporting more than 450,000 patient visits a year, is involved in some 900 clinical trials, and is internationally renowned for its blending of research and clinical excellence. It is located in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, a thriving and dynamic community of medical, academic, research, and cultural organizations that combine to create a powerful economic engine for the city and the state. We are part of a city-within-a-city, one of the densest, most thriving medical communities in the U.S., and home to some of its top-ranking institutions.

    Our pre- and post-doctoral fellows are members of an active community. Our unique working relationship within the Longwood Medical Area means that our post-doctoral fellows have access to a variety of facilities and resources beyond the Institute’s walls, including seminars, symposia, and special events to encourage dialogue and networking.

    With its vast clinical and research enterprises, financial resources, pharmaceutical company interests, and human capital, Boston is one of the most exciting places to live, work, and prepare for a future at the leading edge of scientific research. Greater Boston/Cambridge is currently home to almost 1,000 biotechnology companies, and its list of bioscience credentials is constantly growing.

    Our campus is located in the Fenway area, home not only to baseball’s iconic Fenway Park, but also to busy restaurants and sports bars, as well as the highest concentration of cultural institutions in the city, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Symphony Hall.

    While scientific training is important, we also have a strong focus on departmental activities to strengthen team building and our scientific environment. Trainees have the opportunity to join the department in a range of social and philanthropic events. For example, members of the department head the “CIV Tumornators” team, which participates in the annual Jimmy Fund Walk along the iconic Boston Marathon route, helping to raise crucial funds for cancer research. Department members also participate in philanthropic events such as the Pan-Mass Challenge and the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge, creating more opportunities to get to know your colleagues and grow scientifically.

    Opportunities at CIV

    Post-doctoral research training positions are available on an ongoing basis across the department’s laboratories. To apply for a graduate or postdoc position, email your CV to the lab head whose research focus matches your area of interest. Please include a customized cover letter describing your background and career objectives. Students in international degree programs should also contact faculty directly to discuss potential training opportunities.

    We invite you to view current openings for CIV positions at all levels.