Undergraduate Training

Many of the undergraduate educational and research opportunities in Cancer Biology at the University of Pennsylvania are described on the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and Department of Cancer Biology websites. Undergraduate courses include BIOL407 (Cancer Cell Biology), a semester-long seminar course offered through the Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, cancer biology is discussed in depth in the freshman seminar BIOL015 (Biology of Human Disease).

Undergraduate research is strongly encouraged at Penn, and many students obtain positions in cancer research laboratories in the Abramson Cancer Center and other Institutes and Departments. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) is dedicated to connecting interested undergraduate students to appropriate research opportunities. In addition, support is available through the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Mentoring (PURM) and University Scholars programs.

Summer Research Programs

In addition, multiple summer research programs related to cancer biology are available to undergraduates:

  • Department of Radiation Oncology SUPERS Program. The primary goal of the program is to provide talented and motivated undergraduates with a individualized science-based learning curriculum. The core component of the program is a hypothesis-driven laboratory research experience. Students are paired with faculty mentors from the Departments of Radiation Oncology (Biology and Physics), Radiology (Imaging) or faculty who are members of the Radiobiology and Imaging Program of the ACC (Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmacology, etc.). This large pool of mentors allows the program to place each student into a research laboratory based on their academic major and general research interests. In addition to their research projects, students participate in a didactic course that provides them with a foundation in cancer biology, radiation biology, radiation physics and math, and cancer imaging.

  • Biological Graduate Studies Summer Undergraduate Internship Program. The Summer Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP) is designed to provide an immersive research experience to students interested in graduate study in the biomedical sciences. Interns complete 10 weeks of full-time laboratory research, attend research seminars on current topics, and give scientific presentations to their peers and mentors. Interns also receive training in responsible conduct of research, laboratory safety and presentation skills. Additionally, interns are invited to attend career counseling sessions in which faculty and program administrators discuss graduate school and career opportunities for biomedical scientists. View online application information.

  • Gastroenterology Undergraduate Student Scholars Program. The Division of Gastroenterology offers the Undergraduate Student Scholars Program (USSP), which consists of summer lectures and presentations, combined with basic research experience in the laboratory of an expert investigator. This program is open to students from the University of Pennsylvania as well as outside of the university, and the curriculum is designed specifically for undergraduate students with an interest in biomedical research, with the eventual goal of MD, PhD, or MD-PhD degrees. Applications from women and members of underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged.

  • Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) Undergraduate Initiatives. Multiple undergraduate training programs seek to instill, through a variety of mechanisms, an understanding of how basic sciences familiar to the students can be extended to have a substantial impact on the human condition. Through ITMAT's undergraduate programs, the Institute aims to make undergraduates aware of translational research, to mentor their career development in clinical and translational research, as well as facilitate their recruitment into future postgraduate training programs in translational research at Penn and beyond.

  • The Center of Excellence in Experimental Toxicology oversees the Short Term Educational Experiences for Research (STEER) summer undergraduate research program for students interested in the intersection between environmental health sciences and cancer.