All of the summer research programs at the University of Illinois Cancer Center are now in full swing under the mentorship of nearly 30 Cancer Center members.

The high school programs – Cancer Health Equity Summer Scholars (CHESS) and researcHStart – began June12, while the undergraduate program – University of Illinois Diversity in Cancer Research Internship (UI DICR) – and the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials: Clinical Investigator Pathway Program (Winn CIPP) for medical students started the week before.

The two high school programs, with a total of 17 students, run until August 4; the undergraduate program, with eight students, goes to August 11; and the medical school program, with four students, ends July 14.

Cancer Center Summer Programs

The summer programs are a critical part of the mission of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC) team to build pipeline programs to train diverse cancer researchers from grade school students to  early-stage investigators. The goal is to educate, support and retain trainees from underrepresented minority groups to address the needs of the Cancer Center’s diverse patient population.

  • UI DICR, through funding from the American Cancer Society, supports underrepresented minority undergraduate students to participate in a 10-week summer cancer research internship.
  • The Cancer Center is among the sites for Winn CIPP, a 6-week summer service-learning externship in community-based clinical research where medical students benefit from exposures to clinical research, community engagement experiences, and leadership development. Winn is a former director of the Cancer Center who now leads the VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia.
  • CHESS is an eight-week summer program that trains and mentors underrepresented minority high school students interested in careers focusing on cancer research and other health professions. The CHESS Program is a collaboration between the Cancer Center and the Urban Health Program.
  • The researcHStart program introduces high school students to cancer research, by introducing them to biophysics, biochemistry, immunology and pharmacology. The program is a multi-institution program with the Cancer Center, the University of Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and Rush University.

Cancer Center Member Mentors

Helping to guide students through the summer programs are nearly 30 Cancer Center members serving as mentors: Ekrem Emrah Er, PhD; Donald Vander Griend, PhD;  Kamran Avanaki, PhD; Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD; Tamara Hamlish, PhD;  Tohru Yamada, PhD; Andre Kajdacsy-Balla, MD, PhD; Steve Seung-Young Lee, PhD; Jie Liang, PhD; Md. Wasim Khan, PhD; Georgeta-Elisabeta Marai, PhD; Jimmy Orjala, PhD; Saria Lofton, PhD, RN; Xiaowei Wang, PhD;  Sean Quigley, MD; Paul Grippo, PhD; Joanna Burdette, PhD; Jan Kitajewski, PhD; Ardith Doorenbos, PhD, RN; Keith Naylor, MD; Larisa Nonn, PhD; Natalie Reizine, MD; Ryan Nguyen, DO; Velavan Bakthavachalam, PhD; Abiola Ibraheem, MD; Frank Weinberg, MD, PhD; Richard Minshall, PhD; and Cancer Center Deputy Director VK Gadi, MD, PhD.

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