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2023 DCB Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) Conference

Photo of attendees around the conference table at the 2023 NCI Division of Cancer Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Conference

During the DCB Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), rising junior and senior college students with limited prior research experience gained hands-on knowledge in interdisciplinary cancer biology across 16 academic institutions. Each student worked with a faculty mentor who uses multi-disciplinary approaches to study cancer. 

On July 13 and 14, 2023, the SURP students traveled to the NIH campus for a scientific conference, where they shared their summer research and networked with members of the cancer research community. The meeting included a scientific poster session, career mentorship keynote talks, a tour of the NIH Clinical Center, and opportunities for the students to meet with each other, patient advocates, and NCI staff. 

General Information and Overview about the DCB SURP

The DCB SURP is aimed towards undergraduate students interested in solving complex problems in cancer through interdisciplinary research.    

Program Details

  • Open to Rising Junior and Senior Undergraduates
  • Must be eligible to work in the United States
  • $6000 Stipend + Free Housing
  • Support for Travel to/from Research Institution
  • Two-day Research Conference at the NIH in Bethesda, MD


The DCB SURP offers rising Junior and Senior undergraduates with outstanding research potential the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors from NCI-supported institutions.

The program is designed specifically for students who wish to gain experience in interdisciplinary cancer biology research but have limited prior research experience (0-1 years). Students who do not otherwise have the opportunity to perform research at their home Institution, but are especially interested in cancer research careers, are encouraged to apply.

SURP research opportunities are available at laboratories supported by DCB Research Programs.

Each student participant will work with a faculty mentor whose lab is pursuing a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer research. Projects include experimental and computational studies of the mechanisms underlying cancer processes. Multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to cancer research often bring together disparate fields, such as cancer biology, biochemistry, and genetics, with engineering, physics, mathematics, and computer science.

Students will either assist the faculty member’s lab in an ongoing research project or work collaboratively with the mentor and/or lab members on a new project of mutual interest.

Documents from the DCB SURP Conference 

Videos of DCB SURP Summer Researchers at the Conference

  • Jacob Hogan presented a poster on "Human Lifespan if Cancer Was Not a Cause of Death." This work is related to his summer research with Dr. Fred Adler at the University of Utah, which is combining the roles of genetics, environment, and cell ecology in mathematical models to help us understand the age at which people get cancer.
  • Saanika Mahashetty showed ovarian cancer cell interactions with a mesothelial barrier in a 3D culture model. Her findings are related to her summer research investigating the early steps of ovarian cancer metastasis with Dr. Ioannis Zervantonakis at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Sai Manikonda shared the identification of spatial domains in pancreatic cancer from spatial transcriptomics. This research is related to his summer project with Dr. Versteinn Thorssen at the Institute for Systems Biology, which is focusing on spatial determinants of response and resistance to combination immunotherapy.

Poster Session at the Conference

During the poster session at the SURP conference, summer undergraduate researchers presented their cancer biology research. Here are a few examples of the presentations:

Fengyuan Wang shared the spatiotemporal profiling of the tumor microenvironment for the identification of crosstalk targets in brain metastasis.

Photo of Fengyuan Wang presenting a poster at the 2023 NCI Division of Cancer Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Program Conference

Erin Coyne showed how she is developing a computational model using genetic sequencing data from tumors to discover effective combination therapies for cancer. 

Photo of Erin Coyne presenting a poster at the 2023 NCI Division of Cancer Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Program Conference

Ethan Cohen showed how he is using neural networks to discover gene vulberability patterns in childhood cancer.

Photo of Ethan Cohen presenting a poster at the 2023 NCI Division of Cancer

Social media posts related to the 2023 DCB SURP can be found using #DCBSURP23.

Contacts for the DCB SURP

For additional information about the DCB SURP, please contact Dr. Shannon Hughes.

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