The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center has a rich history of trailblazers and breakthroughs in cancer research. Drawing from a pool of exceptional local students, we are building upon our strong research traditions and accomplishments to help shape a new era of cancer research that is full of diversity, different perspectives, robust inquiry, and team science.

Chicago EYES on Cancer is really about building the pipeline of future cancer researchers and making sure that we have diversity, bringing people that are typically underrepresented in the sciences and giving them the opportunity and exposure to those careers.

Chicago EYES on Cancer is a cancer research training program for high school students, for undergraduate students, and also for high school teachers of the sciences. This is a two-year program, so all of our participants are with us for two summers for eight weeks each, and they are placed in a cancer research laboratory based on their own interests in terms of the methodologies that they might be interested in developing or a particular kind of cancer that they're interested in. And this research experience is the fundamental component of the program.

I was provided with lifelong mentors. Me and Dr. Dolan and Kathy and Megan, we are still close. Nothing changed. Their support for me have not changed. If it wasn't for Dr. Dolan and Kathy, I probably wouldn't have had a love for medicine because they love doing research, especially Dr. Dolan. She's really passionate about her job. And Kathy's history with her father passing away from cancer, she loves what she's doing too. So the love that they had for medicine, they put it upon me.

We get these different lectures throughout the summer during Wednesdays, and we're able to hear about all these amazing researchers and what they're doing, and about their lab and what it's like. And it's very inspiring, and you get to talk to them and meet them. And then you can become part of their lab too. So just the networking, all the opportunities that we're given, it's one of the best things.

I am a veteran teacher. I've been teaching for 18 years, and I've done quite a bit of professional development. This program stands apart from all the other ones in that not only does it build teacher capacity in terms of my actual science skills, but more importantly, it actually allows me to build a partnership with the University of Chicago, specifically the EYES team in bringing this to my classroom in a meaningful way.

Not only is this an opportunity for you to be in a lab and do research, but also to engage with the surrounding community. I think this program really emphasizes being a good neighbor and really connecting with the people around you. And I think it's incredibly important when you do science to understand the environment in which you're working in, especially when you're doing research on the South side of Chicago. And so I am very thankful that the program does have such a high emphasis on outreach in the community.

The broad network stemming from mentored research experiences, comprehensive career development, and outreach will spur a new generation of breakthrough research scientists.

I think we absolutely need scientists. We have certainly not cured cancer. The cancer is 100 or more different diseases. We've made great advances, but we need a set of new minds that can think out of the box, that can bring in 

Formerly the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experience (CURE) program

Chicago EYES (Educators and Youth Enjoy Science) on Cancer is a cancer research training program for high school and college students interested in careers in biomedicine. The program also welcomes secondary science educators.

For two consecutive summers, participants work full time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers at the university. Rigorous research training is complemented with a cancer-based summer lecture series, year-round career development and skill-building workshops, and a network of faculty and peer mentors dedicated to participants’ success. The program culminates in a research symposium to showcase participants’ work across basic, translational, clinical, and population-based areas of cancer research.

Chicago EYES on Cancer is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute in addition to generous donations. Programming is provided in part through a partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

High School and College Students

Chicago EYES on Cancer is a two-year program consisting of two eight-week summer research experiences plus monthly academic year activities. The summer research experiences generally run from the third week of June through the first full week of August. Specific dates are announced with the release of application materials each fall.

Please note that accommodations will be made for students whose last days of school overlap with the first days of the EYES program.

  • Hands-on experience in a cutting-edge laboratory or research group
  • Year-round career development and skill-building workshops
  • Ongoing mentorship from network of university faculty, research professionals, program personnel and peers
  • Taxable stipend of $3,100 (high school students) or $4,000 (college students) per year
  • High school sophomore, junior or senior, OR college freshman or sophomore at time of application
  • At least 16 years of age at start of program
  • United States citizen or permanent resident
  • Strong interest in a career in scientific research or medicine
  • Strong academic record, particularly in math and science
  • Ability to commit to the full two-year program, including 8-week research experiences (40 hours/week) for two consecutive summers and monthly enrichment activities during the academic year
  • Priority is given to applicants from groups underrepresented in biomedicine, encompassing all relevant social, behavioral as well as health sciences. Applications are encouraged from any individual with demonstrated commitment to increase the full participation of underrepresented groups in biomedicine. Learn more.

Please note that students are responsible for their own housing and transportation to and from the University of Chicago during their summer research experiences.

Admission to Chicago EYES on Cancer is highly competitive. Approximately ten new students are selected each year. Selection is based on applicants’ stated interest in the program, academic record, and letters of recommendation. Applications for the 2022 EYES program are due Monday, January 24.

To apply:

Conflict of Interest Policy: The selection of applicants is managed by the program leadership team. Immediate family members of the leadership team, UChicago faculty or the Chicago EYES on Cancer Advisory Committee are ineligible for the program. All applications will be subject to the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Secondary Science Educators

Chicago EYES on Cancer is a two-year program consisting of two seven-week summer research experiences plus a series of professional learning community (PLC) activities throughout the academic year. The summer research experiences generally run from the fourth week of June through the first week of August. PLC activities are scheduled on four Saturdays throughout the school year. Specific dates are announced with the release of application materials each fall.

Please note that accommodations will be made for teachers whose last days of school overlap with the first days of the EYES program.

  • Hands-on experience in a cutting-edge laboratory or research group
  • Mentored curriculum development focused on project-based scientific inquiry
  • Access to network of university faculty, research professionals, program personnel and peers for ongoing support
  • Access to state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, supplies, and scientific literature for classroom use
  • Taxable stipend of $9,600 (Year 1) or $10,800 (Year 2)
  • Currently employed full-time as a high school science teacher (applicants do NOT have to be employed by Chicago Public Schools)
  • Strong commitment to advancing students’ capacity for inquiry-driven, project-based science learning
  • Familiarity with basic principles in cell and molecular biology and/or basic chemistry
  • Ability to commit to the full two-year program, including 7-week research experiences (40 hours/week) for two consecutive summers and four Saturday PLC meetings for two consecutive school years
  • United States citizen or permanent resident
  • Teachers of those underrepresented in biomedicine, encompassing all relevant social, behavioral as well as health sciences, are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications are encouraged from any individuals with a demonstrated commitment to increase the full participation of underrepresented groups in biomedicine. Learn more.

Please note that teacher research fellows are responsible for their own housing and transportation to and from the University of Chicago during their summer research experiences.

Admission to Chicago EYES on Cancer is based on applicants’ stated interest in the program, their capacity to impact the science learning experiences of underrepresented youth and letters of recommendation. Approximately three new teacher fellows are selected each year.

To apply:

Conflict of Interest Policy: The selection of applicants is managed by the program leadership team. Immediate family members of the leadership team, UChicago faculty or the Chicago EYES on Cancer Advisory Committee are ineligible for the program. All applications will be subject to the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Program Team

M. Eileen Dolan, PhD
Associate Director for Education 

Megan Mekinda, PhD
Assistant Director for Cancer Education

Basia Galinski, PhD
Scientific Liaison for Cancer Education

Michelle Domecki
Cancer Education Coordinator

Steven Rogg, PhD
Professional Learning Coordinator

Chicago EYES on Cancer would not be possible without our faculty mentors and their research teams, who dedicate precious time, wisdom and laboratory resources to participants of the program. Our mentors are leaders across all areas of cancer research including basic, translational, clinical and population-based. They are also experienced educators and committed role models.

In addition to their faculty mentors, Chicago EYES on Cancer students work closely with peer mentors: University of Chicago undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the biomedical field.

Our peer mentors advise on everything from laboratory etiquette to poster formatting. Most importantly, they offer valuable insight on the opportunities and challenges awaiting program participants at the very next stage of their careers.

Students & Alumni

Ana Alonso
Autumn Branch (teacher research fellow)
Tayiba Chowdhury
Raven Dean
Michele Drayton (teacher research fellow)
Iyana Gross
Mehnush Hameie
Simone Holland
Kelsey Meador
Cesar Mendoza
Ishmael Mendoza
Brenda Padilla
Monica Padilla
Freddy Rodriguez
Jennifer Stites (teacher research fellow)
Pamela Wagner (teacher research fellow)
Melanie Zuniga

Corazon Avila
Jaime Barraza
Alex Burr
Cristian Carpio
Catherine Collins
Sydney Cush
Russell Frye II (teacher research fellow)
Sara Melendez
Jenna Nimer
Leon Scarlett (teacher research fellow)
Summer Smith
Joel Ssupuuya
Mohmadmoin Vahora
Paula Viza Gomes

Jose Acebedo
Aysha Ahmad
Perla Grimaldo Ramirez
Linzeypearl Gyimah
Paula Lee (teacher research fellow)
Linnea Lungstrom
Rene Maldonado
Ocean Malka
Anna Martinez
Blake McBeth
Karen Munoz
Lidia Ortiz (teacher research fellow)
Zakaria Sadoun
Jennifer Sichory (teacher research fellow)

Rachel Anderson
Henry Deap
Alexis James
Megan Méndez
Crystal Mercado
Nataly Montiel
Alyce Oh
Kelly Perez
Bianca Savant

Mayra Betancourt-Ponce
Andrea Collins
Thomas D’Aprile
Lauren Delgado
Camille Johnson
Eduardo Ramirez
Celeste Sanchez
Michaela Siver

Joshua-Paul Ajayi
Janishia Calhoun
Hector Galvez
Imanol Garcia
Laura Guerrero

Oluwatomiwa Awobayiku
Abidemi Charles
Celina Nhan
Alexander Pei
Garyn Richard
Keven Stonewall
Sidney Trotter

Advisory Committee

The Chicago EYES on Cancer Advisory Committee provides strategic guidance regarding the program’s continued growth and development. It also facilitates greater integration of the program with cancer- and science-related educational opportunities within the university and partnering institutions. Its members include key stakeholders in UChicago cancer education efforts, science education experts and the Chicago EYES on Cancer leadership team.

Vineet Arora, MD
Herbert T. Abelson Professor of Medicine
Dean for Medical Education, Pritzker School of Medicine

Brisa Aschebrook-Kilfoy, PhD
Associated Professor, Institute for Population and Precision Health

Eric Beyer, MD, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics, Cell Physiology, Cancer Biology and Molecular Medicine

Gina Curry, MPH, MBA
Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

M. Eileen Dolan, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology
Associate Director for Education, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dan Golden, MD, MHPE
Associate Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology

Barbara Kee, PhD
Chair, Committee on Cancer Biology PhD Program

Kay Macleod, PhD
Director, Specialization in Cancer Biology

Megan Mekinda, PhD
Assistant Director for Cancer Education, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

Olufunmilayo Olopade, MBBS
Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics
Associate Dean for Global Health

Steven Rogg, PhD
Associate Professor of Education, Carthage College

Iris Romero, MD
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Associated Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

Nancy Schwartz, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics
Dean and Director for Postdoctoral Affairs

Julian Solway, MD
Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Director for the Institute for Translational Medicine

Madeleine Durkee, PhD
Trainee Associate Member, Postdoctoral Fellow Representative, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center 

Emma Wilkinson, PhD
Trainee Associate Member, Graduate Student Representative, UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center