University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)


We will provide national and regional students with eight weeks of didactic and experiential learning at:

The Cancer Biology (CB) Hillman Cancer Center, Shadyside Campus site will prepare high school rising seniors to further their studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and to consider careers in cancer care and research. Through immersion in our dedicated laboratories with qualified faculty mentors, students will increase knowledge of (1) careers in cancer care and research, (2) education in cancer biology and therapeutic strategies, and (3) development of research and communication skills.

The UPCI Women's Cancer Research Center (WCRC), Oakland campus site was developed to expose scholars to various aspects of research in women’s health, focusing on cancer, which has become a major strength at the MWRI with the recent generation of the Womens Cancer Research Center (WCRC). Research projects and presentation centered around critical research projects in breast and ovarian cancer, and state-of-the-art technologies and approaches for the studies, such as novel methods in mass spectrometry. Scholars will participate in class-based didactic courses, extensive research programs in individual mentors’ laboratories, and visits at clinical and core support components of the Magee Hospital, and MWRI.

The Tumor Immunology, Oakland campus site will expose high school students to immunological research and prepare them for career opportunities in tumor immunology. Students will be assigned to work with a mentor in a laboratory to create a research project working with data analysis and experimental design. The goals of this specific Immunology program are: to explore the exciting biologic basis for novel therapies being developed in the immunotherapy of cancer.

The Drug Discovery, Systems and Computational Biology (DiSCoBio) site on the Oakland Campus introduces rising high school juniors and seniors to the emerging fields of research that use both computational and experimental approaches to answer fundamental questions in Cancer Biology and related disciplines: Computational Structural Biology (studying how proteins move and interact with each other), Drug Discovery (theoretical and experimental designing and testing of candidate drug compounds), Genomics/Bioinformatics (analyzing large data sets of sequencing and other data), Image Analysis/Informatics (training a computer how to “see” and analyze biological image data), and Systems Biology (tackling biological questions using an integrated, holistic approach). In addition to having a primary research experience in one of these fields, scholars will learn about the fundamental concepts in each of these “New Biologies”, and gain hands-on training in the tools and techniques central to these disciplines. Professional development activities will complement the research and didactic training to help prepare scholars for careers in science and/or medicine. Scholars should expect an immersive, challenging, and fulfilling research and training experience in a fast-growing area of cutting-edge, biomedical research. For more information visit the DiSCoBio website.

The Computer Sciences, Biological Sciences and Biomedical Informatics (CoSBBI) site is hosted by the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Pathology Informatics (Shadyside campus) and has been developed to introduce high school rising seniors to different aspects of biomedical informatics and their uses in cancer research, detection and diagnosis, and treatment. Biomedical Informatics research covers a broad spectrum of inquiry - from the analysis of genomic microarray datasets to the evaluation of hospital organizations during the adoption of new technology. Students can spend the summer working with faculty mentors on projects with a focus on clinical informatics, pathology informatics, genomic and proteomic data or the development of data warehouses and data mining strategies, among other interests. We expect that by the end of the eight weeks, students will understand the different aspects of biomedical informatics, such as cognitive and translational informatics, and their uses in cancer research, detection and diagnosis, and treatment.

The Doris Duke Foundation Academy for Clinical Research (DDF-ACR) program offers experiential and didactic learning activities in clinical and translational research for rising high school seniors. Eligible scholars come from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups under-represented in the health sciences, and are from Pittsburgh and further afield. Scholars:

  • Conduct research daily in an assigned mentor’s laboratory,
  • Have the opportunity to discuss science and careers with cancer professionals,
  • Take field trips to scientific activities and the National Cancer Institute, and
  • Participate in weekly didactic sessions with a focus on clinical research ethics, health disparities and civic leadership led by qualified medical students, as well as the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion and CORO Pittsburgh.

The program aims to foster interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers in research, provide education in content-specific areas, develop research and communication skills, and improve scholars’ awareness of strategies and approaches for selecting, applying to, and succeeding in undergraduate and graduate institutions.

Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) Oakland campus site now located in new quarters at the VA Hospital will engage scholars in cutting edge studies designed to discern the origins and develop solutions for disparities in health care. Led by Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc, CHERP Director, this program site will be designed specifically for scholars who are interested in working with researchers on clinical research projects. Under the guidance and direction of Dr. Fine, scholars will work side-by-side with an assigned CHERP faculty mentor completed research projects focusing in various areas, such as health care disparities, cancer, women’s health, occupational and environmental health, regenerative medicine and surgical research. Selected scholars for this site will spend their eight-weeks at the Highland Park VA facilities.

The Center for Integrated Oncology-Cologne/Bonn Academy (CIO) will host a new program this year focusing largely on leukemias and lymphomas in Germany. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Hallek and Dr. Cornelia von Levetzow, five to six laboratories will each host one to two scholars for a four-week program that mirrors the curriculum design at the UPCI Summer Academy. It is likely that only German students will participate in this program for this first summer, the program will run between July 7, 2014 and August 19, 2014.

Visit the UPCI Summer Academy Facebook Page