The goal of the Summer Program in Cancer Research (SPCR) is to provide talented undergraduate students with a research project-based laboratory experience and exposure to different science and health disciplines working to address the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. The Program objective is to promote careers in cancer research and clinical oncology, which is in line with the NCI mission to attract and train the best minds to become the next generation of cancer researchers. This goal will be accomplished through a formalized 10-week program during which participants will work on an individualized research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The MD Anderson Science Park campus in Smithville, Texas, provides a unique environment for young scientists to engage in cutting-edge research using state-of-the-art technologies while working in a park-like setting. Participating faculty members are not only committed educators but also internationally recognized experts in the fields of cancer genetics and genomics, epigenetics, DNA repair and mutagenesis, stem cells, immunology, and mechanisms of cell death and survival. Students will also gain an appreciation for other areas of cancer biology, such as viral carcinogenesis, angiogenesis, and metastasis, through a Program lecture series complemented by additional lectures video conferenced from Houston designed for all summer students at MD Anderson. An appreciation for the wide variety of research being performed at MD Anderson will also be gained through field trip experiences to the MD Anderson main campus and hospital in Houston and the Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine. Students will be exposed to the variety of career options available to individuals interested in cancer research through career development lectures and a Careers in Science Panel Discussion. Students will also learn how to organize a scientific presentation, including background information, hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions, and will hone their oral communication skills in preparation for a culminating Scientific Symposium, where students present their research projects to departmental faculty, trainees, and staff. Past programmatic evaluations demonstrate that the SPCR is an important contributor to the career development of participating students and influenced their decision and ability to pursue graduate or other training leading to careers in cancer-related research and medicine.

Public Health Relevance

The Summer Program in Cancer Research will support the participation of twelve (12) academically talented undergraduate students in an authentic, hands-on laboratory research experience for ten weeks during the summer break. The primary objective of the program is to promote careers in cancer research and oncology and prepare students to pursue graduate education in science, research and health care. Under the direction of faculty and laboratory staff mentors, students will receive training in laboratory techniques and research procedures that will increase technical acuity, communication skills and self-confidence in entering the cancer research field as well as develop sustained mentor relationships which further promote long-term pursuit of basic science and clinical careers in cancer research.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Education Projects (R25)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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Korczak, Jeannette F
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University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Internal Medicine/Medicine
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United States
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Zelazowski, Maciej J; Sandoval, Maria; Paniker, Lakshmi et al. (2017) Age-Dependent Alterations in Meiotic Recombination Cause Chromosome Segregation Errors in Spermatocytes. Cell 171:601-614.e13