First Cohort of Scholars Completes Cancer-focused Summer Undergraduate Research (CanSUR) Program

Students gathered for a group photo on the stairs of the Wolstein Research Building with program staff and Director Stan Gerson, all smiling.

Though the summer academic break is often a time to relax and rest, as temperatures rose in Cleveland, so did the buzz across the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) as students from across the nation assembled for the Cancer-focused Summer Undergraduate Research (CanSUR) Program.

Directed by Mark Jackson, PhD, the inaugural year of the program amassed a staggering number of applications, nearly 300, in fact. Of those applications, 32 scholars were selected to spend their summers working alongside established researchers in Case CCC labs.

For 10 weeks from June through August, the undergraduate trainees were immersed in all aspects of cancer research. The best part, said Jackson, was the sense of camaraderie amongst the cohort that was evident from week one’s kick-off events. Mentors and junior mentors from various research programs across the Case CCC graciously gave of their time and expertise to the incredibly motivated scholars contributing to their lab activities.

Each Friday, the scholars gathered for “lunch and learn” sessions covering subjects in career and personal development as well as presentation skills and elevator pitch coaching. Their summer experience culminated in a symposium where each scholar gave concise presentations of lab work they took part in. Photos from the program and final symposium now are available to view.

The 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 won’t know for another five-to-ten years what the future has in store for our scholars as they choose career paths, scholar feedback as the program’s first year came to a close was promising.

Applications for the 2020 program are expected to open November 1, 2019. Cancer Center Members who wish to volunteer as mentors or are interested in hosting additional students next year are encouraged to contact Gena Richmann at cancer-training@case.edu.