Diversity in Cancer Research Program

2023 Diversity in Cancer Research Trainees (from left to right): Jillian Martin, Lojain Elkhidir, Miah Emerson, Olivia Dres, Justin Lan, Elijah Darden, Angelina O’Brien, Noemi Ukaegbu, Dr. Jason Weber
2023 Diversity in Cancer Research Trainees (from left to right): Jillian Martin, Lojain Elkhidir, Miah Emerson, Olivia Dres, Justin Lan, Elijah Darden, Angelina O’Brien, Noemi Ukaegbu, Dr. Jason Weber

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.

Applications for 2024 are closed.


Applicants must:

  • 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).

Stipend & Housing

Students will be provided a $7,000 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.


Cohort #4 Program Dates: May 28 – August 2, 2024

Cohort #3 Program Dates: May 30, 2023 – August 4, 2023.

  • May – August: Intensive mentored research project, weekly research talks, weekly career development seminars, and ethics training. Summer research experiences will culminate in a final presentation of work conducted. Details from prior years’ final presentations may be found HERE.
  • August – May: 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 –

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.


Dave Chen, MD, PhDDr. David Chen

Research Focus: Defining the molecular drivers of premalignant states in skin cancer, examining factors associated with exceptional response to melanoma therapies, as well as determining risk of adverse effects associated with melanoma therapies.



Milan G. Chheda

Milan Chheda, MD

Research Focus: Cancer stem cells, oncolytic viruses, and functional genomics of brain tumors. Identifying and characterizing the genetic and epigenetic events that induce  cancer and maintain tumors. Often, in other contexts, these same molecules enable normal human development.


David DeNardo, PhD

David DeNardo, PhD

Research 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.


Abby Green, MDA Green

Research Focus: Identifying sources of DNA damage in pediatric cancers. Defining genome-protective cellular responses. Designing rational therapies to target cellular vulnerabilities.



Greg Longmore, MD

Greg Longmore, MD

Research 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.



1 – Online Application Form

Applications are currently closed.

2 – Demographics Survey

3 – A single, combined PDF of the following items:

  • Current Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Transcript(s)
    • If applicable, please attach your graduate and/or medical transcript(s)
    • Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
    • Please note: Transcripts may include sensitive identifiers (e.g. SSN) – Please redact this information before uploading.

This single PDF file must contain both items (CV/resume and transcripts) and uploaded within the online application form to be considered.  Your file should be named as follows: first and last name, Summer 2024 (ex: Jane Smith, Summer 2024).

4 – Reference Letter #1

Letters of reference are due on Friday, January 12, 2024, 5:00 PM CST, and must be requested through our system. The link will be available in November.

Request your letter of reference HERE.

We recommend that at least one of your two reference letters be from a STEM teacher or professor. Your references will be requested to address the following in their reference letter:

    • Identify for how long and at which career stage(s) you have known the applicant.
    • Describe the applicant’s qualifications in general cancer biology and/or translational cancer research.
    • Describe the applicant’s capacity to develop original ideas.
    • Describe the applicant’s performance in comparison to other students you have known.
    • Describe the applicant’s potential to become a successful scientist.
    • Describe if the applicant has worked in your laboratory, and the applicant’s scientific accomplishments.
    • Indicate any special circumstances that should be considered with respect to this applicant.

5 – Reference Letter #2

Letters of reference are due on Friday, January 12, 2024, 5:00 PM CST and must be requested through our system. The link will be available in November.

Request your letter of reference HERE.

Applicant Review

Application materials, including reference letters, submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. Incomplete applications after the deadline will not move forward to the review process. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all materials have been received prior to the deadline. Complete applications that have been submitted by the deadline (January 12) will be reviewed.  Those selected will be matched to research opportunities available at Siteman Cancer Center before the end of March.

Trainee Resources



Program Support

This program is funded by the American Cancer Society’s new Center for Diversity in Cancer Research (DiCR) Training. More information about this new initiative is available on the American Cancer Society website.


[email protected].