Disability Fellowship

CanResearch Program

Focus on abilities, not limitations

The University of Illinois Cancer Center CanResearch Program for Students with Disabilities is the first cancer research training program for undergraduate students with disabilities. People with disabilities are under-represented in cancer research, but with mentorship, training and appropriate supports have the potential to contribute to the understanding and treatment of cancer, become leaders in science and healthcare, and enhance workforce diversity.

The program provides a 6-week summer research experience for undergraduate students with disabilities (i.e., physical, neurodiversity, sensory) interested in learning about social, behavioral, and biomedical cancer research.

The CanResearch Program 2019 is underway. Check back for updates on our fellows and information for the 2020 program.


For more information, questions, and partnership opportunities, please contact:

Davyd Chung, PhD
Executive Director
Research and Strategic Operations
University of Illinois Cancer Center

Susan Magasi, PhD
Associate Professor
Departments of Disability and Human Development and Occupational Therapy
University of Illinois at Chicago

The program offers students the following experiences and benefits:

  • 6-week summer experience in multi-disciplinary cancer research (i.e., basic, population, behavioral, social, health disparities)
  • Lectures and workshops from role models and experts
  • Career development and leadership training
  • Field experiences with diverse corporate and community partners
  • Navigation and support throughout the career cycle
  • Cross mentoring with UIC faculty, physicians, and other summer program students
  • Opportunities for research and career development throughout the year

The CanResearch Program consists of a paid full-time summer research and enrichment experience at UIC. Afterwards, students will have the option to be placed in a research team during the academic year for course credit (e.g., independent study), service learning credit, or salary based on availability. Research team placement is not guaranteed and dependent on project availability and mentor matching. All research fellows are expected to participate in bi-monthly (every other month) career development activities and must participate in periodic performance monitoring of career progression.

All research fellows selected for the program must participate in the summer intensive experience from June 17 to July 26, 2019. The summer intensive experience is full-time; Research Fellows are expected to devote a minimum of 40 hours per week on a 9 AM to 5 PM to the fellowship. Students should not, therefore, expect to take courses or engage in other work or volunteer commitments during the daytime.

The summer intensive experience prepares individuals for careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research and in healthcare. During the intensive 6 week program, fellows will learn from a team of leading cancer and disability researchers and experts. The active learning curriculum will emphasize:

  • Cancer research training
  • Leadership and career development
  • Mentored laboratory and cancer research experiences
  • Field experiences

At the end of the program, fellows are expected to present at a symposium organized by this program.

1.Prepare in advance the following documents and save them to your hard drive:

  • An up-to-date resume or curriculum vitae. 
  • Two separate essays on the following topics:
    • What are the reasons you want to be part of the UI Cancer Center Research Fellowship for Students with Disabilities? Include a discussion of your strengths and qualifications for the program (up to 300 words); and 
    •  How has your disability experience impacted you and your career goals? (up to 300 words). 
  • College transcripts (unofficial transcripts are accepted).
  • One letter of recommendation (non-family member and can be from a faculty member, mentor, or teacher)

2.Upload all required documents in the online application system. The final application deadline for this program is May 17, 2019 at 11:59 pm CST. ALL application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by this date for full consideration

Applicants who become finalists will be notified and invited to participate in an interview May 20-24th. Applicants selected for the fellowship will be notified in late May 2019.

All applicants should familiarize themselves with online submission requirements well before the final submission deadline.

May 17, 2019: Deadline for receipt of applications

May 20-24, 2019: Selection and interviews of finalists

May 28, 2019: Selection and notification

June 17, 2019: Start of summer intensive program

July 26, 2019: End of summer program

To be considered for admission into the CanResearch Program applicants must:

  • Self-identify as a person with a disability
  • Be an undergraduate student in good standing at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Be a rising sophomore, junior, or senior
  • Be able to attend all Fellowship programs activities (June 17 through July 26, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM).1,2

1Reasonable accommodations to support participation will be provided

2Program activities will take place primarily at the UI Cancer Center on UIC’s West Campus

Members of the Program Internal Advisory Board will assess each applicant, based on the following criteria:

  • Academic, professional, and personal achievements
  • Potential for future growth and career advancement
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Individual plans for incorporating the fellowship experience into specific career goals

The review committee will select finalists from the applicants and interview them. Interviews will take place in Chicago, IL in May 2019. Applicants who are selected for interviews will receive details about the remainder of the process upon invitation.


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