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. Small number of SORFites participate during summer vacations later in medical school. 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 SORfites may continue to work on their projects during the following school year in a part-time, remote or in-person capacity, to help bring the projects to completion and publish their work in peer-reviewed journal. Students 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 successful 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 are then connected 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
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 students have presented their work at local, national, and international scientific conferences and published their project in peer-reviewed scientific literature. Through follow-up, we have found that many SORFites developed successful medical careers that include cancer research and related disciplines.
Students participate in the on site SORF summer program between 8 weeks and 15 weeks.
Students receive weekly subsistence of $600 per week while participating in SORF during the summer.
During their stay in the SORF program students are expected to participate on-site full-time in their research project and in all SORF activities including, but not limited to, didactic curriculum, site visits, social activities, team meetings, and poster and oral presentations.
Travel and housing assistance are available for qualifying students. Students are encouraged to obtain SORF approval to continue their research projects remotely or in person after the summer, under their mentor’s guidance, in order to bring them to completion, presentation and publication. They report their effort and receive subsistence for the time they spend.
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
Early Application Deadline: December 18, 2023
Regular Application Deadline: January 8, 2024
Onsite Full-time Program Duration: 8-15 weeks (exceptions accepted on school justifications)
2024 Dates Durations Fall Between May 15 – September 15, 2024 (depending on duration of school vacation)
Download Program Flyer
Click here for a listing of our Prior Fellows
How to Apply
Applications will open Applications will open November 1, 2023, and close January 8, 2024, 11:59 PST.
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.