The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) Summer Student Fellowship Program is a cancer education program that enables 30 first- and second-year U.S. medical students to participate in eight weeks of laboratory and clinical research under the mentorship of MSKCC's clinical faculty. Launched in 1977, this program has allowed some 1,000 medical students to contribute to the research enterprise of a major academic medical center. Program participants are able to work with mentors and in laboratories centrally involved in both basic and clinical research;attend a wide range of conferences and didactics;and learn how to blend lessons from science and clinical practice and present their work to a range of audiences. For some students, the program offers their first biomedical research experience;for many, it is their first exposure to oncology. Laboratory research projects concentrate on molecular biology, cell biology, cellular biochemistry and biophysics, immunology, molecular pharmacology and therapeutics, clinical research, and cancer control and prevention. Clinical research projects focus on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, cancer epidemiology, cancer control and prevention, psychosocial studies, supportive care and quality of life issues, and cancer information outreach. A key goal of the program is to increase students'interest in careers in academic medicine and oncology. Another key goal is to increase participation by underrepresented minorities. The Summer Student Fellowship Program partners with MSKCC's Office of Diversity Programs in Clinical Care, Research and Training to increase the number of minority participants. There are four specific aims for the upcoming grant cycle: (1) to provide the highest quality summer research experience which exposes students to the rigors of scientific investigation within the context of an academic medical center;(2) to promote training opportunities and programming which increase students'understanding of translational research, (3) to maintain the strong representation of highly qualified minority students in this program, and (4) to expand ongoing contact and tracking tools in order to better support the efforts of program alumni to pursue cancer research.
The MSKCC Summer Student Fellowship Program helps address two significant challenges in the field of oncology. First, the program will help increase the number of oncologists to serve the aging population -- an accomplishment which will help ameliorate the 36% shortage of oncologists projected by the American Society of Clinical Oncology to occur by 2020. Second, the program provides opportunities for students from minority communities underrepresented in the sciences to participate in the research endeavors of a major academic medical center.
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