Harvard Medical School Post-Graduate Certificate Program

Customized Education


All participants can customize their educational experience to align with their specific research interests and career goals. This specialization begins with the selection of an area of focus for more in-depth study.


Participants choose from one of the following four tracks for more in-depth study and skills advancement. Each track is led by two Harvard faculty members—experts in these specific disciplines.

  • Cancer -Omics. This area explores the biology and evolution of tumors and their microenvironment; use of high-throughput technology platforms for genetic, genomic, epigenetic, proteomic and RNA expression analysis; functional screens using RNAi and CRISPR; and protein detection and location using cyTOF and CycIF.

This track is designed for individuals with interest in the deep characterization of tumors and their microenvironment or those who want to learn more about cutting-edge developments in technology that are now being applied to cancer diagnostics and therapy.

  • Clinically Challenging Cancers. This area of focus explores cancers that are difficult to treat; why these difficulties have arisen; and what might be done to combat these issues.

This track is designed for clinical researchers who would like to concentrate on new strategies for difficult-to-treat cancers and for basic or population researchers who may want to understand complicated clinical problems.

  • Risk and Prevention. This area of focus explores the identification of cancer risks; the etiology of risks; and advances in prevention strategies, including behavior modification and cancer vaccines.

This track is designed for scientists who are interested in the cutting-edge problems of risk identification and prevention and for those who want to apply their knowledge to tackle these difficult problems.

  • Therapeutic Development. This area of focus explores the identification of unmet clinical needs; the latest advances in biological and small molecule therapeutic development; new types of clinical trials; and bringing personalized medicine to the commercial application.

This track is designed for any researchers who are interested in translational science.

  • With permission from the program directors, a participant may audit a second track.


In the second half of the program, each participant writes a paper – his or her “Capstone Project” for the program.  The subject of this paper is chosen by the participant in collaboration with a faculty mentor. 

You can develop a paper to support your specific research interests or career objectives. 

Examples of recent Capstone Projects include:

  • A grant proposal to a funding group of relevance to the participant’s research interest
  • A clinical protocol appropriate for the participant’s institution
  • The science section of a business plan designed to highlight a particular commercial opportunity
  • A critical review of an important recent paper or development in the cancer research community
  • A subject review suitable for submission and publication

Other types of papers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 


The Cancer Biology & Therapeutics: High-Impact Cancer Research program offers two optional skills-advancement electives:

  • Communications
  • Leadership and Management

Subject to availability, you may enroll in either or both electives after your acceptance into the course. Please note:

  • Workshop space is limited and assigned or reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • No additional fees are required to participate in either workshop.
  • If you opt to participate in either or both workshops, you must successfully complete the workshop requirements in order to successfully pass the High-Impact Cancer Research program and receive the program certificate.

Communications Elective:

In this optional workshop, participants will gain writing experience through a series of special writing exercises that are assigned throughout the course. These include group writing assignments as well as individual papers.

Some participants may additionally elect to hone their oral presentations skills. These individuals will receive one-on-one tutoring and participate in 1.5 day workshop (Oct 21-22, 2019, in Boston, MA) with senior leaders of the Harvard cancer research community. It culminates with an oral presentation of your personalized Capstone Project.

Leadership and Management Elective:

Starting midway between the first and second workshops, individuals who opt to participate in this elective workshop will begin a special series of lectures and discussion groups that present leadership and management best practices.

Participants will then engage in a one-day, interactive workshop on April 12, 2019, in Boston, MA, to gain experience with these practices.

Among the subjects to be covered will be:

  • Managing people
  • Diversity
  • Unconscious bias
  • Personality assessment
  • Giving feedback
  • Negotiation skills
  • Mentorship