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NCI Welcomes Fifth Cohort of iCURE Scholars

, by CRCHD Staff

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The Intramural Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (iCURE) program is thrilled to announce that it welcomed its fifth cohort — consisting of 21 scholars — to the NCI during an October 20, 2022 ceremony on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

“This program…continues to grow and flourish because of the strong roots it has from everyone’s support,” said iCURE Program Director Dr. Jessica Calzola, addressing the ceremony’s in-person and virtual attendees.

Chosen through a competitive application process, these scholars will conduct research in the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR), Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), or Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) research groups, working under the supervision of a principal investigator mentor. The research will take place on the NCI campuses in Bethesda, Rockville, and Frederick, MD.

The cohort, which ties for the largest in program history, includes nine post-baccalaureate individuals, one graduate student, and 11 postdoctoral fellows. Twelve scholars are part of research groups on the NIH campus in Bethesda, five scholars will be working at the NCI Frederick, and four scholars have joined research groups at the NCI Shady Grove in Rockville.

The event featured welcoming messages and words of advice from CCR Director Dr. Tom Misteli, DCEG Office of Education Chief Dr. Jackie Lavigne, and DCCPS Director Dr. Katrina Goddard. Dr. LeeAnn Bailey, Chief of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities’ (CRCHD) Integrated Networks Branch, gave her perspective as a mentor to multiple iCURE scholars over the years.

Dr. Andrea Apolo, medical oncologist and Senior Investigator in the CCR Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, gave an informative and inspirational keynote address that focused on her personal story as a first-generation immigrant. Dr. Apolo closed her keynote with three messages for iCURE scholars:

  "1. Work hard and be determined.
   2. Always aim high — the only boundaries to what you can achieve are the ones you set for yourself. Don’t settle for what you know you can accomplish, challenge yourself to pursue the impossible and       
       you’ll go further than you ever imagine. And,
  3. Stay inspired, when things get hectic, when things seem hard, and even when dreams fall apart, remember what inspired you in the beginning.”

Congratulations and welcome to the NCI, iCURE scholars!

Perspectives from Ceremony Speakers and NCI Leaders

“A mentor is not someone who shows you how they did it, but somebody who walks alongside you to show you what you can do.”
—Dr. LeeAnn Bailey
“[…] iCURE program can serve as a golden ticket opportunity to start or enrich a career in science and medicine.”
—Dr. Andrea Apolo
“How time flies! It’s hard to believe we’ve now welcomed our fifth cohort of iCURE scholars. We launched this program in 2018 to extend the efforts of our longstanding extramural diversity training program — the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) — into the intramural research community here at NCI. We celebrate the tremendous impact and achievements of our current and past iCURE scholars, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our newest scholars.” 
—CRCHD Director Dr. Sanya A. Springfield
“Welcome to our community and really welcome to our family."
—Dr. Tom Misteli
“I really encourage you to be intentional about getting to know other people and to really try to not just stay focus on what you’re doing, but also to look around you and see all of the other exciting things that are happening at NCI.”
—Dr. Katrina Goddard
"Having you share your success stories, the challenges, and your goals is such a wonderful thing for me to experience.”
—Dr. Jackie Lavigne
“It’s not only about the world-class science that we are doing. It’s about the people. We at NCI and CRCHD want you to be successful. Explore and create your own network, which you will come back to the rest of your career.”
—CRCHD Diversity Training Branch Chief Dr. Behrous Davani
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