Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

NCI Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP)

Martha A. Zeiger, MD, FACS

Staff Clinician, Surgical Oncology Program

Center for Cancer Research

Credit: National Cancer Institute

The NCI Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP) is designed to train surgeon scientists and retain them in cancer research by supporting a program focused on cancer-related disease and basic/translational research. This program aims to bring together surgeon scientists from across the United States and build cohorts that will be trained together for up to three years per cohort. The ESSP participants will be funded through an administrative supplement to the grantee’s NCI-designated Cancer Center Support Grant (P30) or Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE; U54) to one of the institutions serving underserved health disparity populations and underrepresented students (ISUPSs). NCI Intramural surgeon scientists may also apply to participate in the program.

This 5-year pilot program will support early-career surgeon scientist program participants, each of whom will receive three years of funding in three cohorts, staggered a year apart.  Each cohort will be comprised of primarily extramural surgeons. Only one candidate per P30, one ISUPS candidate per CPACHE U54 Program, and one candidate per intramural NCI Lab/Branch may be nominated to apply by the Center/Division director or Branch Chief per cohort. 

Participants in the ESSP will be selected via a competitive process after submitting an administrative supplement application for a P30 or U54 grant.  Eligible extramural surgeon scientists may be nominated and apply by responding to the NIH Guide Notice NOT-CA-21-100 and NCI intramural surgeon scientists may be nominated and apply by submitting application materials outlined in NOT-CA-21-100 via email to

NCI ESSP Program Pre-Application Webinar

Recording and slides from the webinar held on Monday, September 11, 2023.


Where surgeon investigators who will change the world are created.

Dr. Martha A. Zeiger                  

Congratulations to the 2024 ESSP Cohort of Surgeon Scientists!

NCI Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP) 2024
2023 ESSP Awardees
2022 Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program Cohort


For General Inquiries:
The Program Director for the ESSP
National Cancer Institute (NCI)

*If you have specific questions related to the P30 CCSG or U54 CPACHE Awards, please contact the Program Director of record.

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “NCI Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP) was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”