Cancer Data Science Pulse
Growing the Field—NCI Fellowship Opportunities in Data Science
According to Jobs on the Rise, a recent LinkedIn report, 150 million technology related jobs will be added across the globe over the next 5 years, including data science specialists, artificial intelligence (AI) practitioners, and engineers. And this red-hot job market isn’t likely to slow down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that data science and analyst job opportunities will continue to grow at a rate of 22% in the coming years, well above average for other occupations.
Top demand for these specialized skills makes data science a highly competitive market. How can NCI help to grow the next crop of data scientists for the cancer research field? Perhaps one of the best opportunities for identifying, engaging, and retaining a talented workforce is through the fellowships offered by NCI.
Supporting the Fellowship Journey
As director of CBIIT, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with and mentor a wide range of fellows in the field of data science. From my perspective, I’ve found fellowships to be an excellent way to infuse new and fresh ideas into our daily workstream. We gain a good deal from these interactions, and, in turn, our fellows learn a lot from working at NCI.
Fellowships also can serve as pathways to permanent positions—in both the public and private sectors. These short-term appointments frequently transition into full-time, permanent career opportunities.
In this way, fellowships can help you determine what you want to do next in your career. You have a chance to try new things without a lot of risk. For example, someone working in biochemistry might use a fellowship to gain experience in bioinformatics, without taking the plunge into a completely new career. Alternatively, a post-doc might be interested in public service or looking for ways to gain experience, but hesitant to leave academia. In such cases, fellowships like the NIH DATA Scholars Program, or similar opportunities, could offer valuable insight into what it’s like to work in the federal government.
Are Fellowships a Good Fit for You?
Do you have the skills to pursue a fellowship in data science? For many, the answer is “Yes!” Relevant training and experience spans the biological, physical, and computational sciences, as well as work in biological and clinical laboratories and in data analysis, computational biology, and information technology.
Although many opportunities exist for people with post-doctoral and medical degrees, you don’t need an advanced degree to qualify for some programs. We have fellowships for undergraduates and even high school students.
Other staff with skills that support data science also can find fellowships at NCI, such as those working in the communications field. People with experience in journalism and technical writing are needed to help disseminate data science findings to the broader general public and research communities
NCI Fellowship Opportunities
To get you started, I’ve listed examples of fellowships available at NCI and NIH. Deadlines for these positions vary, but links are given for more information.
- Fellows in the Data Science and Engineering Research Group (a group within the NCI Division for Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics) work with a wide range of data, including genomics, digital pathology, computational pathology, environmental exposures, lifestyle/behavior, AI, and more. Fellows also contribute to hackathons, such as Cloud 4 Bio.
- NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR) offers the opportunity to work side-by-side with noted scientific investigators in a wide spectrum of topic areas, such as genomics, computational biology, bioinformatics, machine learning, and AI. The Cancer and Data Science Laboratory, part of CCR, was formed to work on new, cutting-edge computational approaches and algorithms. The lab offers two postdoctoral fellowships—one in computational genomics and algorithms, and another in computational biology.
- NCI’s Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program is a 2-year fellowship sponsored by NCI and the Veterans Health Administration (VA). Participants work with data from the VA health data infrastructure to address clinically important questions in cancer research.
- NCI’s Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research offers fellowships to support analysis of Big Data in collaboration with staff from the bioinformatics section.
- Although not a fellowship per se, the CBIIT Summer Internship Program lets undergraduate students gain valuable experience in software engineering, data sharing, data science, or business administration.
NIH Fellowships Available for Leveraging by NCI
NCI also can tap the skills and expertise of people applying to other NIH early career track opportunities to work in our cancer data programs. These include:
- The Data Science and Informatics Scholars (DSI Scholars) Program, which is available through the NIH Summer Internship Program.
- NIH’s Office of Science Policy, a collaborative effort with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which targets staff interested in Science and Technology Policy, including data sharing.
- The NIH-wide DATA Scholars program, which is geared toward keeping NCI on the leading edge of biomedical research to improve our nation’s health. Previously, NCI selected scientists from this pool of qualified scholars to help support initiatives, such as NCI’s Cancer Research Data Commons.
- NIH’s National Library of Medicine’s Intramural Training Opportunities, which awards visiting fellowships through the Intramural Research Training Award. Details can be found on NIH’s Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) website. Topics and opportunities can change daily, and some opportunities may not be captured on the OITE website. Fellows are encouraged to contact NIH investigators directly before filing an application.
- OITE also offers a data science summer program. This summer immersion experience gives people pursuing their master’s degrees or recent graduates in data science or computer science the chance to work with the full biomedical research enterprise.
What Others Say About Data Science Fellowships
I’ve seen first-hand how fellowships can impact a career path. It’s clear that others echo that sentiment, as evidenced by the quotes highlighted here. These recent and former fellows speak to the success of these programs. Whether you’re considering data science as a career, you’re a new graduate, or you’ve been working in academia or industry for many years, you likely can find a fellowship that’s a good fit for you.
I hope you’ll consider NCI when planning your career track in data science. In addition to the opportunities listed here, follow CBIIT on Twitter, and subscribe to the RSS feed to learn more about fellowships as they become available.
Data science is growing rapidly. It might be just the field for you. Good luck!
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