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Cancer Disparities

For Students

CURE Mentor Resources

FAQ: CURE Program (Mentors)

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fold faq What is DF/HCC?
  • Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) is a comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute and is the first collaborative effort to bring together the intellectual resources of its seven partner institutions to focus on one mission—the eradication of cancer. These institutions are: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • DF/HCC is NOT Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, although the Institute is a partner institution of DF/HCC.

  • The CURE program is housed within DF/HCC’s Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities. The Initiative uses an integrative approach to focus on disparities reduction throughout all aspects of DF/HCC structure and activities through facilitation of clinical trials recruitment efforts, original research focused on new discoveries related to understanding the causes of and solutions to cancer disparities, as well as development of increased faculty and trainee diversity. The CURE program is designed to introduce students to the exciting world of cancer research. Students will be placed with a mentor who conducts cancer-related research at one of our seven partner institutions.
fold faq What are the potential areas of research within the CURE program?
  • CURE mentors represent a variety of oncology-related environments across the basic, clinical and population science research spectrum. We also offer nursing research environments. Check DF/HCC's list of research programs for details. 
    • Basic science research
      This includes the fields of genetics, molecular biology, cell and developmental biology. Basic science research looks for the answers to problems at the fundamental level. It is done in laboratories using beakers and test tubes, not people. Basic science researchers look at the micro level (the cellular and molecular level) to better understand larger issues, such as diseases and disorders. 
    • Clinical science research 
      This is patient-oriented research (conducted with human subjects or on material of human origin, such as tissue or other specimens). It includes research that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products, and treatment regimens intended for human use.
    • Population science research
      This includes epidemiological and behavioral studies as well as research that looks at health disparities and other community-based outcomes.
    • Nursing research 
      This type of research focuses on nursing practice as it pertains to health promotion, disease prevention, quality of life and end of life care.
  • During the application process, we urge students should be as specific as possible when listing areas of research interest in their application. These may range from cancer genomics to breast cancer to cancer health disparities to prostate cancer. 
  • For information about previous student research, please view the 2012 Program Book.
fold faq My research focus is not in any of these areas. Can I still be a mentor in the CURE program?
  • Yes, if you are a member of DF/HCC you can be a mentor in the CURE program. All participating mentors must be DF/HCC members. If you are not a DF/HCC member, please visit http://www.dfhcc.harvard.edu/membership/ for information on how to join.

fold faq Do student participants typically have research experience, in cancer research or otherwise, prior to the start of their CURE experiences?
  • Students applying to CURE need not have had any prior research experience. They are not required to demonstrate prior interest in cancer research either or any one particular disease; instead, this is an opportunity for them to be involved in new types of research conducted at DF/HCC partner institutions.
  • We take CURE students to a two-day training session at Biogen Idec that introduces them to pipetting and molecular biology techniques (including DNA isolation, bacterial transformation, minipreps, gel electrophoresis, ELISA and others).
  • For information about previous student research, please view the 2012 Program Book.



fold faq I do not have a specific project for a student. Can I still be a mentor in the CURE program?

·         Yes, as long as the research in which the student is engaged can lead to the generation of a final presentation. Most students work on projects or research tasks that are a subset of a larger project already underway in their assigned research environments, or are related in some other way to a larger project. Mentors and day-to-day supervisors assume the responsibility of designing and developing research tasks or projects for CURE students.

fold faq I will need to travel for some portion of the program dates. Can I still participate in CURE?

·         Yes, if you can identify to the CURE training coordinator a person within your research environment who can work with the student on a day-to-day basis in your absence.

fold faq What is the typical summer program schedule?
  • Students begin their experience with 3-5 days of comprehensive orientation. All students attend scientific and professional development seminars at least once a week as a large group. Once a week, students attend a journal club. Students might also tour various biomedical companies and animal research facilities. Networking and a variety of social activities are also scheduled throughout the research experience. There may be 1-2 evening activities over the summer.
  • CURE is a full-time program and participants function more like research scientists more than hourly employees. This could mean some time in the research environment on evenings and weekends in order for a student to accomplish his/her goals. Students usually participate in their own lab's group meetings.
fold faq How are presenters chosen for the weekly seminars?
  • Most of the presenters are Harvard faculty and have indicated an interest in engaging with students participating in the program. In addition, we seek input from our current and past student participants to determine topics of interest. If you are interested in being a presenter, please contact the CURE Training Coordinator.
fold faq How are mentors paired with students? Can students request to work in particular departments?
    • Every attempt is made to match students and mentors who have similar research interests. We will also consider special requests to work in particular cancer-related departments; however, all participating mentors must be DF/HCC members. It is helpful for the student to be as specific as possible when listing areas of research interest in their application. We ask the students to check Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center's web site for details on the various cancer-related research being conducted and the scientists (their potential mentors) who are conducting the research. If they identify particular people or an area you would like to work in, the candidates would list these on their application.
fold faq Is the student's research project supposed to be completed by the end of the program?
  • CURE students are required to present their research findings, whether complete or incomplete, to colleagues and researchers at the end of the summer in a formal presentation. Due to the program length, some students may not obtain definitive results before the summer ends. Students may follow up with their mentors to get updates regarding the research they conducted.
fold faq Do all students have the same research project?
  • Students are paired individually with different mentors. Research may sometimes be similar but students typically do not work in the same research environment together since CURE focuses on developing an individual research experience.
fold faq How does the 2-year program work? Must students work full-time during the academic year too?
  • The 2-year CURE program provides students with a full-time mentored research experience during the first summer, followed by a part-time continuum of activities throughout the academic school year. Research consists of less than 10 hours per week and only if the student's schedule allows. This is not mandated by the CURE program. However, CURE does require that students attend a mandatory bimonthly session during the academic year. Students then return to a second full-time research experience the following summer and complete the program during the second academic school year.
  • To be eligible for the 2-year program, students must first apply and be accepted to the summer program. At the end of their first summer, students indicate their interest in the 2-year program.
fold faq If I have a student for one summer that opts to participate in the 2-year program, am I expected to host them in my research environment for the second summer?
  •              Yes, this is our expectation. Prior to joining the 2-year program, students must speak with their mentors and day-to-day supervisors to ensure that they can continue in the research environment during the second summer. If this is not possible, please be sure that your student knows and also be in touch with the CURE training coordinator as early as possible prior to the start of the second summer.

fold faq Can students continue research past the summer experience with their mentor if they are not part of the 2-year program?
  • Yes. We encourage students who participate in a summer-only experience to communicate any interest in continuing their research to the CURE Training Coordinator, as well as to their mentors and day-to-day supervisors.
fold faq What does the CURE application process look like?
    • We consider all parts of the application (the ones listed below plus an official report card or transcript) to be important. The admissions committee is looking for:
      • a strong statement of interest explaining goals, research interest and any research experience, and why students want to participate in CURE;
      • a strong letter of recommendation that says something about students’ work in the classroom and/or research environment;
      • a demonstrated interest in scientific research, as shown by coursework, recommendation(s), and research
fold faq Are there networking opportunities for CURE students beyond their research environments?
    • There are ample networking opportunities for students—as part of the research internship, students must attend weekly seminars given by prominent researchers and physicians. Students are also highly encouraged to network within their own department and seek out opportunities for themselves—former students have shadowed doctors, observed surgeries, etc. in the past because of the networks they built over the summer. There will also be opportunities to network with students from other research programs in the Greater Boston area.
fold faq Can students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents apply for CURE?
    • Because the program is primarily funded by federal agencies, it is only open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can provide their I-551 card number.
    • If a student is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, we ask that they please confirm their application with the CURE Training Coordinator prior to applying.
fold faq How are CURE students funded
  • The CURE program provides support for students, but we also seek funding from individual mentors.
fold faq Can I participate in the CURE program if I am unable to commit to supporting a student through a summer research experience?
  • Absolutely. There are opportunities to present your research to the CURE students (during the summer or as part of the academic year program), participate on career panels, engage our students in discussion of primary literature as a journal club facilitator, and more. Please communicate your interests in this regard to the CURE Training Coordinator. 




fold faq Will I have an opportunity to interview a CURE student prior to placement in my research environment?
  • You will have an opportunity to meet with any student(s) matched to your research environment at the mentor/mentee orientation typically held each May before the program start in June. If there are specific requirements for a student placed in your research environment, please inform the CURE Program Training Coordinator and we can try to accommodate your request. 

fold faq What have CURE alumni done after graduating from the program?
  • Please see the testimonials section for further information.
fold faq What are the start/end dates for the summer program?
  • Undergraduate students must be fully committed to CURE from June 10 through August 16, 2013 (10 weeks).

  • High school students must be fully committed to CURE from June 24 through August 16, 2013 (8 weeks). 
fold faq Does CURE aid student participants in submitting abstracts and projects to different symposiums?
fold faq My question is not listed here. How can I find out more information?