Diversity in Cancer Research Program

Siteman Cancer Center (SCC) and Washington University (WU) recognize the need to bring together people from varying backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise. Diversification of our biomedical research workforce is essential to the future of cancer research and quality healthcare. Through funding from the American Cancer Society, the WU Diversity in Cancer Research Program, aims to develop a more diverse, well-trained cancer research workforce capable of addressing complex, scientific questions and accelerating advancements in cancer research.

Note for Summer 2021: Depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, selected trainees should prepare to be flexible and may need to complete their research partially or fully online. Updates, resources, and current University policies are available on the Washington University COVID-19 Website.


Applicants must:

  • Identify as being from “Populations Underrepresented in the Extramural Scientific Workforce,” as defined by the NIH (details at: diversity.nih.gov/about-us/population-underrepresented). This includes –
    • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the NSF to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis
    • Individuals with disabilities
    • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Be rising Washington University undergraduate sophomores or juniors with an interest in any STEM discipline
  • Maintain good academic standing with at least a 2.75 overall GPA
  • Continue at full-time student status during the fall and spring semesters
  • Not be enrolled in summer courses concurrent with the program
  • Continue as an undergraduate for the duration of the program dates (applicants are ineligible for the program if their bachelor’s degree will be awarded before the program ends in May).

Please Note: For the purposes of this program, female applicants are not considered underrepresented at the undergraduate level unless they are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, have a disability, or are from a disadvantaged background


Applications for the 2022 cohort will open in November, 2021.

Application Components:

  • Online Application Form
  • Current Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Half page statement of interest
  • Undergraduate Transcript(s) (unofficial transcripts are accepted)

Applicant Review

Complete applications that have been submitted by the deadline will be reviewed.  Those selected will be matched to research opportunities available at Siteman Cancer Center by April 21.


Program dates are June 1, 2021 – May 11, 2022.

  • June 1 – August 6: Intensive mentored research project, weekly research talks, weekly career development seminars, and ethics training.
  • August 7 – May 11: Cancer PhD Near-Peer Mentor Meetings; Monthly Cohort Meetings; Research-In-Progress Presentations; and other career development and networking opportunities.

Students’ daily schedules will depend on the research area in which they are working, but participants are expected to work approximately 40 hours per week during the 10 weeks in the summer.

Mentor Labs

Selected applicants will be matched with one of the following labs –

David DeNardo, PhD

David DeNardo, PhDResearch Focus: Identifying the molecular mechanisms by which malignant cells derail anti-tumor immune responses to instead favor immune programs that facilitate tumor progression to metastasis. Understanding the immune microenvironment in which tumor cells reside will allow for the identification of pharmacological targets that can be exploited to destroy malignant disease.

Katherine Fuh, MD, PhD

Katherine Fuh, MD, PhD

Research Focus: Ovarian cancer tumor progression and the development of a human in mouse metastatic ovarian cancer tumor model.

Greg Longmore, MD

Greg Longmore, MDResearch Focus: Mouse leukemia models, including friend virus erythroleukemia-multigenetic events, cell surface organization and signaling by the erythoropoietin receptor. Also, developmental hematopoiesis, including identification of novel growth factors and their receptors, which regulate the initiation of embryonic hematopoiesis.

Sheila Stewart, PhD

Sheila Stewart, PhD

Research Focus: Cellular immortality is one of the defining characteristics of malignant growth. Therefore, understanding how cellular lifespan is controlled at the molecular level is a central theme in the laboratory. The telomere plays a central role in controlling cellular mortality. We are particularly interested in understanding how it is maintained. Delineating the signal transduction machinery that is responsible for monitoring the telomere and eliciting modifications of the telomere is of critical importance to understanding how incipient cancer cells obtain immortality.

Jason Weber, PhD

Jason Weber, PhD

Research Focus: The p53 protein requires communication between upstream activators in order to sense when a cell is under stress. One such activator is the ARF tumor supressor. These two proteins are among the most frequently affected genes in human cancer. We are interested in understanding the individual contribution of these proteins to the development of human cancers and how they may be regulated by upstream signals.

Stipend & Housing

Students will be provided a $6,200 stipend that will be disbursed in two payments. (The last Friday’s of June and July).

Typically, participants are responsible for their travel to St. Louis and housing. Housing is available on campus for out-of-town participants at summer term rates as space allows. 

Due to the constant changes brought on by COVID-19, trainees in need of on-campus housing should watch for announcements from Summer Housing Services.