2023 CanSUR Scholars Ready to Rock and Roll this Summer

headshots of all the students participating in CanSUR 2023

Case CCC proudly introduces the 2023 cohort of CanSUR Scholars. These diverse students from universities across the nation begin training in Cleveland at the end of May.

Directed by Mark Jackson, PhD, Associate Director for Cancer Training and Education, the program this year attracted 320 applications from 139 different colleges and universities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico to fill 32 spots. They will spend the summer working alongside established researchers in Case CCC labs. In addition, another seven students were selected to participate jointly in The American Cancer Society's program called Diversity in Cancer Research (ACS-DICR). This program is designed to provide promising undergraduates who are under-represented in medicine with a unique opportunity to embark on a career in cancer research by engaging them in an immersive summer research experience.

For 10 weeks, from June through August, mentors and junior mentors from various research programs across the Case CCC will graciously give their time and expertise to help these scholars contribute to lab activities.

The CanSUR Program is sustained by the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Research Education Grants Program, also known as the R25 mechanism, which supports educational activities to enhance the training of the nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce. While we don't know what the future has in store for our scholars as they choose career paths, scholar feedback from original cohorts is very promising.

While all the CanSUR and ACS students bring special gifts to the program, here are a few highlights from the cohort: Ashanti Aaron is a student from Louisiana's deep south where people usually do not make it to college, let alone pursue medical degrees; first-generation college student, Damanpreet Kaur Bhattal, has decided to pursue oncology/hematology after helping her mom through breast cancer; CanSUR alumni, Douglas Gurdak, returns after a fruitful previous year of having his research considered for publication; and Matthew Chang, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, chooses to stay in Cleveland as a math and science tutor at the Church of the Covenant each Saturday for young CMSD students.

Several of the ACS-DICR students from last year have returned as CanSUR participants. They are Justin Gayles, Joseph Olamide-Elias, Gabe Lancaster-Dixon, James Ramos, and Amman Spencer. You may have seen videos produced by some of these students for the ACS website.

Applications for the 2024 program are expected to open November 1. Cancer Center members who wish to volunteer as mentors or who are interested in hosting additional students next year are encouraged to contact Gena Richmann at cancer-training@case.edu.