City of Hope National Medical Center

Duarte, California

Training Program Director: Lily Lai, MD, FACS

City of Hope National Medical Center has been a free-standing hospital since 1913 and is now one of 40 NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. City of Hope surgical oncologists operate at the interface of leading-edge research and advanced surgical practice. Our Surgical Oncology Fellowship program is designed to train the next generation of expert surgeons with a thorough knowledge of multidisciplinary care of the cancer patient while accommodating each fellow's specific interests in cancer medicine. After completing the City of Hope fellowship program, the majority of fellows have continued their careers as academic surgical oncologists. The City of Hope Surgical Oncology Fellowship program offers a wide breadth of  experience in all aspects of cancer surgery and cancer care. Designed and administered through the  Division of Surgical Oncology, the program combines rigorous training in clinical surgical oncology with education and experience in non-surgical oncologic treatment modalities and research. Three new clinical fellows are appointed each year for a total of 6 fellows over a 2-year fellowship period.

Fellows spend 2 years on focused clinical surgical oncology rotations as the only fellow. One month each of medical oncology, surgical pathology, head & neck surgery, and radiation oncology training are included in the 2-year training period. Each clinical rotation has a mandatory day per week allotted for research throughout the entire fellowship program. An optional 3rd year of fellowship is available to accommodate longer-term research projects.

Research opportunities at City of Hope are extensive, both within the Department of Surgery and throughout the organization. More than 100 basic science principal investigators work on campus, complementing the health services and clinical research available for fellow participation. Importantly, fellows have the chance to witness City of Hope's translational research philosophy in action, promoting the rapid application of investigational results into better medicine at the bedside.

Clinical Rotations

Surgical Oncology fellows gain practical insight into cancer's clinical manifestations, as well as the experience needed to manage patients at all stages of the disease. Services include rotations on Breast, Hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB), Colorectal (CRC), Gynecologic, Thoracic Oncology and upper gastrointestinal (UGI)/Mixed Tumor. The HPB service covers liver and pancreatic malignancies. The CRC service includes cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.  The UGI/Mixed Tumor service covers a broad spectrum of diseases including melanoma, endocrine, sarcoma, as well as gastrointestinal malignancies.  Fellows are trained in advanced laparoscopic and robotic upper gastrointestinal, colorectal, thoracic, and gynecologic surgery.  Each fellow completes an average of 40-50 complex, advanced laparoscopic/robotic cases.

Clinical Trials

Fellows are strongly encouraged to gain experience with clinical trials: both in-house and national cooperative group protocols support a dynamic clinical research environment.

Meetings and Conferences

The fellowship program provides constant opportunities for learning and interaction. Regular Department of Surgery conferences attended by all fellows include the Morbidity and Mortality Conference, Surgical Grand Rounds, Pre-Operative Conference, and Fellow's Education Conference. Beyond these, fellows rotating on specific services attend focused multidisciplinary conferences, including Breast, Liver, Colorectal, HPB, Sarcoma, and Head and Neck Multidisciplinary Tumor Boards, the Institutional Tumor Biology Conference, Chest Conference, and Thyroid and Endocrinology Conference. The Departments of Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology organize weekly conferences that are attended by fellows rotating on those services.

Research Opportunities

Research is at the core of City of Hope's mission. Investigations by our fellows target promising cancer-related topics in cellular and molecular immunology, molecular carcinogenesis, multiple drug resistance, oncogenic expression and modulation, radio-immunotherapy, growth regulation, viral-induced carcinogenesis, tumor and vaccine immunology, and clinical outcomes research.

Each fellow is encouraged to explore and define his or her individual research interests and goals. After evaluation and approval, specific projects are carried out under the supervision of a City of Hope mentor. These projects are excellent opportunities to gain practical experience in biostatistics, clinical protocol development and clinical research. Fellows should expect to complete at least 3-4 peer-reviewed manuscripts prior to completion of the fellowship. To ensure the validity of investigations, the Department of Biostatistics provides didactic and interactive support including a graduate course in biostatistics, protocol preparation and design. Fellows also attend a comprehensive year-long course, "Methods in Clinical Research."

Eligibility and Benefits

Candidates must be eligible for a California Medical License. Eligibility for the clinical fellowship includes: (1) successful completion of a general surgery program accredited by the ACGME, or a general surgery program located in Canada and accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; (2) at the time of entry into the fellowship program all applicants will be board eligible or board certified general surgeons under the auspices of the American Board of Surgery; and (3) an interest in a career in academic surgical oncology. Trainee salary is provided, commensurate with local cost of living expenses.

How to Apply

Please refer to the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) website for instructions on how to apply to our program.  We are participating in the match through the National Residency Match Program (NRMP).

Contact Information

Training Program Director: Lily Lai, MD, FACS
Address: Surgical Oncology Fellowship
Department of Surgery
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, CA 91010-3000
Phone: (626) 471-7100
Fax: (626) 301-8113
Email: llai@coh.org
Program Coordinator: Christina Perez
Department of Surgery
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte CA 91010
Phone: (626) 471-7100
Fax: (626) 301-8113
Email: christinaperez@coh.org