Educational Programs


researcHStart welcomes high school students from the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign areas to explore exciting careers in cancer research. Participants work full time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers, gaining hands-on experience in areas at the forefront of the field: cancer immunology, pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities, and more. Rigorous research training is complemented by career development and skill-building workshops, a cancer-based faculty lecture series, and a network of faculty and peer mentors dedicated to students’ success. The program culminates in a research symposium for family, friends, and members of the scientific community. Participants receive a taxable stipend of $2,000.

Download researcHStart flyer

Program Goals

  • Introduce students to scientific research (specifically, cancer research) to promote career opportunities in the field
  • Help students gain knowledge in biophysics, biochemistry, immunology, and pharmacology
  • Help students gain an understanding of cancer and its impact on Illinois residents

Benefits to Students

  • Hands-on experience in a cutting-edge laboratory or research group
  • Targeted career development and skill-building workshops
  • Ongoing mentorship from network of university faculty, research professionals, program personnel and peers
  •  Exposure to Illinois’s top universities
  • Taxable stipend of $2,000

Participating Institutions

University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Illinois at Chicago Cancer Center
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Program Dates

June 17 – August 9, 2019

Eligibility Requirements

  • High school junior or senior at time of application
  • 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 8 full weeks of programming, 40 hours/week


Admission to researcHStart is highly competitive: only 24 participants will be selected. Selection is based on applicants’ stated interest in the program, academic record, and letters of recommendation. To apply:

  • Review the applicant information packet: Instructions for Applicants 
  • Submit the online application form: Accessible HERE
  • Identify two individuals (at least one teacher) to complete the applicant recommendation form: Instructions for Recommenders
  •  Applicants who advance to the second round: Complete an in-person interview with the program leadership team at your chosen site, scheduled for February.

Conflict of Interest: The selection of applicants is managed by the site leadership teams. Immediate family members of the site leadership teams or of the researcHStart Advisory Committee are ineligible for the program. Immediate family members of faculty from a given site are ineligible for that site. All applications will be subject to the Conflict of Interest Policy.


Please see the University of Chicago researcHStart Site for FAQs: researcHStart Information

Primary Contact

Megan Mekinda, PhD
Ph: 773-702-4678

researcHStart Website