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What Are Cancer Disparities?
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Frequently Asked Questions
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, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan 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
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.
What is this program about? Is it just for students interested in cancer or any kind of disease?
Students applying to CURE need not have had any prior research experience. You are not required to demonstrate prior interest in cancer research either or any one particular disease; instead, this is an opportunity to be involved in new types of research conducted at DF/HCC partner institutions.
At which institutions will I be able to work?
Our partner institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Will I be working on a project that I want to develop or will it be one that is assigned?
Most projects are a subset of a larger project already underway in your assigned research environment, or are related in some other way to a larger project. They are usually specially designed and developed for you by your mentors.
What are the potential areas of research where I will be working?
This is an opportunity to be involved in cancer-related research conducted at DF/HCC partner institutions. Check DF/HCC's list of research programs for details.
Students can be assigned to a variety of oncology-related environments across the basic, clinical and population science research spectrum. We also offer nursing research environments.
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.
This type of research focuses on nursing practice as it pertains to health promotion, disease prevention, quality of life and end of life care.
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
2014 Program Book
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.
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.
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. Check Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center's web site for details on the various cancer-related research being conducted and the scientists (your potential mentors) who are conducting the research. If you identify particular people or an area you would like to work in, please list those on your application.
Is my 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.
Is there an opportunity to continue research past the summer experience with my mentor (if I am not enrolled in the 2 year program)?
Students who participate in a summer-only experience should communicate any interest in continuing their research to the CURE Training Coordinator.
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.
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 hrs per week and only if the student's schedule allows. Students are required to 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, you must first apply and be accepted to the summer program. At the end of the summer, students indicate their interest in the 2 year program.
If I apply for the summer-only experience, can I re-apply for the 2 year experience?
If I go to college out of state or out of Boston, can I be in the 2 year program?
Students in the 2 year program must be able to attend a mandatory bimonthly session during the academic year that is held in Boston.
I'm not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Can I apply?
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 you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, please confirm your application with us before applying.
Is an individual of Asian descent considered an underrepresented minority?
No. For purposes of NIH funding, an underrepresented minority is defined as an individual belonging to a particular racial or ethnic group that has been determined to be underrepresented nationally in the biomedical sciences. Underrepresented minorities in the biomedical sciences include Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
There is no minimum GPA requirement, but competitive applicants do have a record of academic achievement, especially in recent courses. Their interest in science and research is, in part, demonstrated by the courses they've taken.
I don't have any research experience. Am I eligible?
Applicants are not required to have prior research experience.
What are the most important parts of the application?
All parts of the application are important. The admissions committee is looking for:
a strong statement of interest explaining your goals, research interest and any research experience, and why you want to participate in CURE;
a strong letter of recommendation that says something about your work in the classroom and/or research environment;
a demonstrated interest in scientific research, as shown by coursework, recommendation(s), and research
Can I submit an application after the deadline?
No, the postmark deadline is strictly adhered to for submission of applications.
Is there a stipend, and, if so, how much?
The amount of the stipend is determined at the start of each program year. The stipend is determined by CURE funding sources, which vary from year to year.
A stipend is provided on a weekly basis. We are unable to pay overtime to students.
In 2012, undergraduates received $11/hr and high school students received $10/hr.
Can I participate in CURE and take summer courses and/or work elsewhere at the same time?
If you plan to take classes and/or work elsewhere concurrently, please do not apply. The CURE program requires a full-time commitment.
Will there be housing accommodations for students from outside Boston? If not, is there assistance in arranging housing?
Housing is not provided for students—it is the student’s responsibility to acquire his or her own housing.
Are there networking opportunities?
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.
What have CURE alumni done after graduating from the program?
Please see the
for further information.
Does CURE aid student participants in submitting abstracts and projects to different symposiums?
Yes—please contact us at
for more information.
What are the start/end dates for the summer program?
Undergraduate students must be fully committed to CURE for 10 weeks from the beginning of June through mid-August.
High school students must be fully committed to CURE for 8 weeks from the end of June through mid-August.
My question is not listed here. How can I find out more information?
Contact us at