ChicagoCHEC Summer Research Fellows Program: University Without Walls

research fellows

On June 20, 2016, the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) kicked off their inaugural Summer Research Fellows Program — a comprehensive, paid eight-week summer learning experience for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students from Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC).

Focused on developing academic, technical, and professional skills, the Fellows Program will help prepare a new generation of leaders for careers in social, behavioral and biomedical research, and in healthcare. ChicagoChec Research Fellows will gain important knowledge, skills and networks through immersion experiences, group projects and journal clubs. In addition, one-on-one, group, and near-peer mentoring will guide their progress in becoming researchers and healthcare professionals who can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to advance the nation’s work toward cancer health equity. At the conclusion of the program, Fellows will have learned fundamental research practices and methodologies, pertinent research content topics (e.g. cancer inequity and recruitment of underserved minorities in clinical trials), social contexts for health inequity across the cancer continuum, and critical professional development practices and networks.

The Summer Research Fellows Program leverages the expertise of the scholars, cancer researchers, health professionals, and institutional and community leaders who participate as guest lecturers, project mentors, and site visit hosts. According to the physician-scientists and researchers who lead ChicagoCHEC — Northwestern University’s Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, UIC’s Robert Winn, MD, and Northeastern Illinois University’s Christina Ciecierski, PhD, and Moira Stuart, PhD — the program provides an opportunity to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past. That is, to move the needle on health equity by expanding opportunities to the next generation in a way that changes the architecture of collaboration, community engagement, and the culture of research education.

“The Summer Research Fellows program is a first-of-its-kind program to advance research, leadership, and community-engagement capabilities in this high-potential group of first-generation, underrepresented minority and non-traditional college students,” said Simon, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Co-Leader of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Survivorship Program. “The interest in ChicagoCHEC’s first program was so great that we were inspired to create an Affiliates Program as a pipeline for participants in the future.”

Funding support for ChicagoCHEC is provided by the National Cancer Institute (grants U54CA202995, U54CA202997, and U54CA203000).

About ChicagoCHEC

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 of ChicagoCHEC is to advance cancer health equity through meaningful scientific discovery, education, training, and community engagement.