High School Education


The researcHStart program is an 8-week cancer-focused research and career development experience for the most promising high school students from the Chicago and Champaign-Urbana areas. The research experience is the core of the program, which provides hands-on, full-time immersion into a cancer research environment under the supervision of an established, funded investigator.

Program Dates

June – August

Underhill lab tech testing samples

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 $2,500.

Program Goals

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

Benefits to Students

a Taxable stipend of $2,500

Exposure to Illinois’ top universities

Targeted career development and skill-building workshops

Hands-on experience in a cutting-edge laboratory or research group

Ongoing mentorship from a network of faculty, research professionals, program personnel, and peers


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.

To apply:

  • Review the applicant information packet
  • Submit the online application form 
  • Identify two individuals (at least one teacher) to complete the online applicant recommendation form 
  • Applicants who advance to the second round: Complete an in-person interview with the program leadership team at the respective site.

Please sign up for our mailing list to receive information about possible online enrichment activities through spring 2022.

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.

Eligibility Requirements

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


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