High School Education


ResearcHStart is a multi-institutional program welcoming 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, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities, and more.

The program complements rigorous research training with 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 scientific community members. Participants receive a taxable stipend of $3,000. To learn more about the program, visit the University of Chicago’s main researcHStart website via the link below.


  • Introduce students to cutting-edge cancer research and 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


ResearcHStart generally runs from the second full week of June through the first week of August. Specific dates are announced with the release of application materials each fall.

Student Benefits

  • Taxable stipend of $3,000
  • Exposure to top universities in Illinois
  • Targeted career development and skill-building workshops
  • Hands-on experience in a cutting-edge laboratory or research group
  • Ongoing mentorship from faculty, research professionals, program personnel, and peers

Admission Process

Admission to researcHStart is highly competitive. No more than 30 participants will be selected, based on their stated interest in the program, academic record, and letters of recommendation.

Conflict of Interest Policy: 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.

How to Apply


  • High school junior or senior at time of application
  • At least 16 years of age at start of program
  • 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

Past Cohorts

2023 Cohort

researchstart group photo 2023

(left to right): Savindi Devmal, Kara Mathias, Kenzie Hales, Hailey Downs, Charlotte Chesser, Aya Surheyao 

2022 Cohort

Back row (left to right): Amy Li, Sarah Guo, and Lily Weaver
Front row (left to right): Noam Kramer, Mariam Vaid, and Samara Rezwan

2021 Cohort

Back row (left to right): Malcolm Forsyth, Grace Juhn, Ibrahim Sali, and Jasmine O’Connor
Front row (left to right):
Keshav Gandhi, Olivia Rosenstein, Raneem Saadah, and Sarah Park

2020 Cohort

The 2020 cohort was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 Cohort

Left to right: Sid Panda, Zona Hrnjak, Kristine Wang, Emma Hambley, Anushka Agrawal, Neha Hebbar, and Erica Guelfi

2018 Cohort

Left to right: Josh Sanford, Anneliese Paton, Uma Basole, Ira and Debra Cohen (Program Supporters), Eman Zwawi, Ritu Dave, Esther Chung, and Edith Yao

2017 Cohort

Left to right: Robert Forsyth, Sarah Matatov, Jarron Roy, Yichen Yao, Joy Chen, Malaak Saadah, Elizabeth Breen, Malaak Saadah, and Aditi Mehta

2016 Cohort

Back row (left to right): Kaviamuthan Kanakaraju, Samuel Hotchkiss, Bhargav Yadavalli, and Jonathan Wang
Front row (left to right): Caitlin O’Callaghan and Hailan Shanbhag

2015 Cohort

Left to right: Angela Lee, Katie Finn, Debra Cohen (Program Supporter), Isabella Lee, and Callie Miller

Have a Question?

The main researcHStart website has an FAQ section addressing many commonly asked questions about the program.


Primary Program Contact

Megan McKinda

researcHStart website

Illinois Program Contacts

Marcia “Marci” Pool