The ChicagoCHEC Fellows program is a comprehensive learning experience for undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students at Northeastern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, the City Colleges of Chicago, and other Community/ Junior Colleges in the Chicago metropolitan area who are planning to apply to graduate or medical school. This program is focused on the development of academic, technical, and professional skills in preparation for careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research and in healthcare. ChicagoCHEC Fellows will spend the summer in seminars, workshops and research lectures learning from leading researchers. Following the summer intensive program, ChicagoCHEC Fellows will have the option to be matched with a mentor and project (depending on mentor and project availability) during the academic year as part of the LEaP companion program.

Hear from the 2020 Fellows Cohort about their experience on the SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All podcast!

SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All · S2E10 Reflections on CHEC Fellows Program 2020


The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) is a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer partnership led by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our mission is to advance cancer health equity through meaningful scientific discovery, education, training, and community engagement. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The ChicagoCHEC Fellows program, which seeks to increase the number of strong and diverse social, behavioral, and biomedical researchers and healthcare professionals, is critical to that vision.

This program seeks outstanding undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students with an interest in careers in health and health care who: (1) possess the commitment to apply to graduate or medical school; and (2) can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to advance the nation’s work toward cancer health equity.

How the program works

The ChicagoCHEC Fellows program consists of a paid full-time summer research and enrichment experience in Chicago. Afterward, students will have the option to be placed in a research team during the academic year for course credit (e.g., independent study) or service learning credit. Research team placement is not guaranteed and is dependent on project availability. All Fellows will have access to ongoing career advancement activities and must participate in periodic performance monitoring of career progression.

All Fellows selected for the ChicagoCHEC Fellows program must participate in the summer intensive experience that runs from June 10 to August 2, 2024. The program is paid and full-time, running Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm for 8 weeks. Students should not, therefore, plan to take courses or engage in other work or volunteer commitments during the daytime of the program’s 8 weeks. Additionally, all Fellows will have access to ongoing career advancement activities and must participate in periodic performance monitoring of career progression.

The summer intensive experience prepares students for careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research and in healthcare. During the intensive 8-week program, fellows meet with leading scholars in basic, clinical, translational, prevention, control, behavioral, and population research over a course of research lectures at Northwestern University, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Illinois Cancer Center, and Northeastern Illinois University. In addition, fellows will participate in journal clubs, case studies, peer mentoring workshop design and facilitation with high school students, and group activities to develop communication, career readiness, writing, and critical thinking skills, as well as leadership development focused on self-reflection, building resiliency, understanding conflict, and finding mentors. At the end of the program, fellows are expected to present a group, literature-based project on cancer health disparities during the fellows’ graduation symposium.

During the 8-week program, ChicagoCHEC Fellows will receive a stipend of $4,800 (students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to receive funding). Housing, meals, and local travel support are not provided. Travel is required for the ChicagoCHEC Fellows program which will primarily take place in downtown Chicago.

At the conclusion of the program, fellows become part of an alumni network and typically attend ChicagoCHEC’s annual meetings and become mentors to subsequent years’ ChicagoCHEC Fellows. Fellows are expected to meet ChicagoCHEC’s requirements for the submission of periodic information needed for overall project performance monitoring, which includes annual monitoring of a fellow’s career progression.

Key Dates and Deadlines

December 20, 2023    

Early Application Deadline

January 2024          

Interviews of early applicant finalists

February 5, 2024                 

Early applicant selection and notification

February 10, 2024     

Final Application Deadline

February/March 2024  

Interviews of finalists

March 2024                     

Selection and notification

June 10, 2024         

Start of summer program

August 2, 2024            

End of summer program

Eligibility criteria

The ChicagoCHEC Fellowship is an enrichment program for undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students interested in learning more about the biological, environmental, social, and genetic causes of health disparities. Students with a keen interest in careers in social, behavioral, and biomedical research, as well as students interested in attending medical or other health professional school programs, are especially encouraged to apply. The admission committee will give preference to students from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (including but not limited to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders), individuals with disabilities, and/or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. ChicagoCHEC welcomes applications from students in all disciplines and encourages first-generation college students to apply.

To be eligible, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to receive the $4,800 stipend.
  • Be a rising sophomore, junior, or senior, at Northeastern Illinois University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, or Northwestern OR be enrolled at least half-time at one of the City Colleges of Chicago or one of the Community/Junior Colleges in the Chicago metropolitan area. Post-baccalaureate students who are currently enrolled in classes at NEIU, NU, or UIC can apply if they graduated with their bachelor’s degree in May 2022 or later.
  • Intend to apply to graduate or professional school. Community college students must intend to apply to a four-year college.
  • Be able to attend the ChicagoCHEC Fellows program for 8 weeks, Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. The program will be in person and primarily take place in downtown Chicago. You are responsible for travel to and from the program locations unless otherwise specified.

*All eligibility requirements must be in place at the time of application.

Selection criteria

Members of the ChicagoCHEC Research Education Core will assess each applicant based on the following criteria:

  • Academic, professional, and personal achievements
  • Potential for future growth and career advancement
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Individual plans for incorporating the fellowship experience into specific career goals

The review committee will select finalists from the applicants and interview them via Zoom. Not all applicants are guaranteed an interview.

How to apply

Submission of a complete application involves the following steps:

1. Prepare in advance the following documents and save them to your hard drive:

  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae or resume. 
  • Two separate essays on the following topics: (1) What are the reasons you want to be a ChicagoCHEC Fellow? Include a discussion of your strengths and qualifications for the program and how this fellowship experience will fit with your career plans (up to 300 words); and (2) What is something that people don’t necessarily know about you, but that you think they should? (up to 300 words). 
  • College transcripts (unofficial transcripts are accepted).
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one letter must be from a faculty member)
  1. Upload all required documents to the online submission system. Letters of recommendation can be uploaded by applicants directly to the online submission system or applicants can ask faculty to complete the Letter of Recommendation using the unique links which will be sent to you after submitting your application. ALL application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by December 20, 2022 (early application deadline) or February 6, 2023 (final application deadline) for full consideration. Please review the application and program key dates above.

Click the link below to view our informational video about each section of the application.

All applicants should familiarize themselves with online submission requirements well before the final submission deadlines. In fairness to all applicants, late submissions or incomplete applications will not be accepted.


Please direct inquiries to: [email protected]


ChicagoCHEC Fellows 2022 Cohort during the Graduation Ceremony.