Summer Oncology Research Fellowship

Our NIH-supported Summer Oncology Research Fellowship (SORF) Program is designed for medical students in the summer between their first and second year who are considering a biomedical career that involves cancer research. This research fellowship is held at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California (USC).

SORF immerses medical students in cutting-edge research experiences within a team science framework in oncology and related fields. Students are matched with mentoring teams according to interests and research experience. Research projects are in pediatric, adolescent or adult oncology, in fields of clinical, translational, or laboratory research and/or new frontiers in bioinformatics, biomedical engineering, precision medicine, population-based research, survivorship and other oncology-related fields. Students work on their research project under experienced faculty mentors, visit centers of emerging sciences, participate in social activities, interact with faculty, trainees and cancer survivors, and engage in a dynamic interactive curriculum of selected topics in oncology, career development, research skills, research communication and responsible conduct of research. Students further enhance their skills through scientific reports, posters and oral presentations. Select students may later in the year and are encouraged to present their work at local, national and international conferences and to compile their data into a manuscript for publication. As a testament to the success of the program, many fellows have gone on to have successful academic medical careers involving cancer research and related disciplines.

Students apply online. SORF’s executive committee invites the top 5% to 10% of applicants to the program. Invited students indicate their top five project/mentor choices from a list provided and are paired with one. They then connect with their mentor, read background literature, conceptualize and submit a research proposal prior to the start of the program, and are ready for their project upon arrival. Students from underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply.

Learn More About the Training Program

  • Student Activities
  • Stipends
  • Mentorship Matching

Students are immersed in their research projects under the guidance and mentorship of faculty members located at CHLA and/or USC. There are opportunities to visit centers of emerging sciences, participate in social activities, interact with faculty, trainees, and cancer survivors, and engage in a dynamic interactive curriculum of selected topics in oncology, career development, research skills, research communication, and responsible conduct of research. Students further enhance their skills through scientific reports and poster and oral presentations.

Many previous students have been able to present their work at local, national, and international conferences and even more so have been able to publish their work. Through follow-up, we have found that many have also gone to lead successful academic medical careers involving cancer research and related disciplines.

Students receive a weekly stipend of up to $600 a week for 10 to 12 weeks. While participating in the program, students are expected to participate full-time in their research and in all activities planned including, but not limited to, site visits, social activities, curriculum, team meetings, and poster and oral presentations.

Travel and housing assistance are available for qualifying students. Some students may also qualify for support for additional research done after completing the program.

Students will designate areas of research interest in their initial application. They may also list specific mentor(s) of interest. Upon acceptance, students are provided an updated list of mentors and projects and are required to specify preferences. Matches will be made based on these preferences, student qualifications, and the number of students requesting specific mentors/projects. Mentors and students will be connected via email and will begin communication in preparation for the project (i.e. reading materials, specific aims and description of project, etc.). Mentors will guide and supervise their student's research throughout the fellowship period. Projects should have a well-defined objective as he/she will need to give a brief written and oral presentation at the end of the summer and, optimally, acquire data that will result in a scientific abstract and/or peer reviewed publication.

Program Fast Facts

Funded by NIH-R25 Grant, Principal Investigators: Dr. Anat Epstein & Dr. Martin Kast
Fellows Per Year: up to 20
Application Deadline: January 15, 2021
2021 Dates: May 3 – September 17
Stipend: up to $600/week

Click here for a listing of our Prior Fellows 

How to Apply

The application period will begin November 2, 2020, and close January 15, 2021.

Applications are submitted electronically via the Summer Oncology Research Fellowship Application website.

In addition to the online application, the following documents are required:

  • Personal statement
  • Current CV
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation
  • Verification of school enrollment
  • Verification of availability

Please submit your requests for letters of recommendation as soon as possible as these usually take time.

The application will detail how to submit these documents so please print those pages for your reference. Applications will not be considered complete without all necessary documents and will not be reviewed unless submitted in the proper format.