Stanford Cancer Institute

The Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI) pilot undergraduate summer program provide Stanford undergraduates interested in further exploring cancer-related career tracks with hands-on lab experience.  

Program Information


  • Rising junior or senior at Stanford who is interested in cancer related research and/or career tracks
  • Pre-med coursework (Biology, Math & Statistics, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences etc.)
  • Evidenced prior coursework or experience in a lab setting is preferred and a plus
  • One academic reference (Letters are NOT required at the time of submission of the application). 


Key dates:  

  • Program dates: Jun. 24 - Jul. 29 (6 weeks)
  • Call for applications: Dec. 1, 2023
  • Information session: Jan. 5
  • Application deadline: Jan. 11
  • Notification emails: Jan. 22
  • Intent to accept: Feb. 1
  • Waitlisted student notification: Feb. 8


Program commitment and expectations: 
All students are required to participate in the following: 

  •  SCI seminars/ faculty talks 
  • Enrichment and social events
  • Work in the labs with faculty mentor and other scholars (up to 8 hrs/per day)



The summer stipend is $9,000 ($3,000 housing support and $6,000 summer stipend).

For questions contact
Sei Lee: 

D Martinez

Daniela Castro-Martinez

Mentor: Reena Thomas, MD, PhD

Hi! My name is Daniela Castro-Martinez, and I am currently a rising sophomore from Scottsdale, Arizona, with an interest in immunotherapy research pertaining to cancers. I plan to major in Biology with a concentration in Computational Biology, and my ultimate dream would be to go to medical school and become a physician-scientist. Aside from that, I love to play tennis, read, listen to podcasts, and spend time with my friends in my free time!

Jason Cui

Jason Cui

Mentor: Steven Artandi, MD, PhD

Hi! I’m Jason Cui, a first-year undergraduate student from Boulder, Colorado intending to study biology or computational biology with a minor in global health. I hope to pursue a career as a physician-scientist and contribute to translational cancer research. Outside of classes and research, I enjoy practicing classical music, playing tennis, and hiking.

Camryn Franke

Camryn Franke

Mentor: Tanja Gruber, MD 

My name is Camryn Franke, and I am a Bioengineering major for undergrad, and I am also enrolled in Stanford’s coterminal master's program in Biomedical Informatics, where I will graduate with both my Bachelor’s and Master’s next Spring. I have been interested in studying cancer for most of my time at Stanford. I have been a research assistant with Dr. Tanja Gruber for two years now, and my undergraduate thesis is on the work I’ve done in her lab, studying pediatric acute megakaryoblastic leukemia. I am currently working on screening antigens identified in a proteomics analysis of cells from a patient-derived xenograft murine model for potential as immunotherapeutic targets. Last summer, I interned at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the Gynecologic Oncology Department, and had the amazing opportunity to shadow tumor debulking surgeries and help with clinical data collection. In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors and traveling, and when I can’t be out and about, I like playing video games on my PS5.

Jennifer Hamad

Jennifer Hamad

Mentor: Crystal Mackall, MD, MD

Jennifer Hamad is a rising junior, majoring in Biology on the Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental track, with a hope of devoting her career to cancer immunology research as an MD/PhD.  From a young age, Jennifer’s curiosity about the natural world and disease led her to design and conduct several experiments. It was her early discoveries of natural antimicrobial and anticancer compounds present in common household spices that seeded an insatiable passion for research in her. Jennifer currently works in the Wender Lab where she is involved in designing, synthesizing, and evaluating a drug delivery system that holds the potential to delivery oligonucleotides and small molecules in a tissue-specific manner for prophylactic and therapeutic benefit. This summer, Jennifer will be working in the Mackall Lab to develop a novel cancer immunotherapy that can alter the tumor microenvironment and upregulate the activity of T cells by exploiting their endogenous regulatory capabilities. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys listening to music, writing poetry, and advocating for children’s rights both at home and abroad.

Kyle Lambert

Kyle Lambert

Mentor: Julien Sage, PhD

Kyle is entering his fourth year at Stanford where he studies Neurobiology and Classics for his undergraduate degree, as well as Epidemiology and Clinical Research as a coterminal master’s student. He is passionate about investigating the intricacies of cancer biology and aims to have a career in translational research after pursuing an MD/PhD. His current work focuses on outlining the biology of paraneoplastic neurologic syndromes in small cell lung cancer patients and models. Outside of the lab and classroom, Kyle enjoys watching tennis, working on community-based care initiatives, and cooking homestyle Jamaican cuisine for friends and family.

Zachary Xiang Yu

Zachary Jun Xiang Yu

Mentor: Melanie Gephart, MD

Zachary is a current rising junior at Stanford from Hong Kong studying Neurobiology, Psychology, and Computer Science. He is currently investigating the role of the Choroid Plexus in CNS leukemia, particularly using biocomputational strategies to identify genes which contribute to the survival of cancer cells.

The Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI) launched the SCI Pilot Undergraduate Summer Program, a six-week program that concluded on August 7. The program provides mentorship from SCI faculty members and hands-on lab experience to Stanford undergraduates interested in exploring cancer-related career tracks and helps them gain an in-depth understanding of cancer research. This program is the first of its kind at Stanford.

The program cohort consisted of six undergraduates pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors. Because the program takes place during the summer, undergraduates had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in an area of research they are excited about without having to balance out a typical academic load during the school year.

“This summer [program] has really allowed me to focus on conducting wet lab research. It’s a lot nicer not having to balance other classes and assignments. You can just really focus on the work,” said Zachary Jun Xiang Yu, a rising junior studying in the Gephart Lab.

Each member of the program cohort is paired with an SCI faculty member to provide mentorship, invaluable insight, and in-depth lab experience that contributes to their mentor’s research area. Students are expected to work in their mentor’s lab up to eight hours each day.

With his mentor Melanie Gephart, MD, who specializes in brain tumor research, Yu investigated the role of the choroid plexus in central nervous system leukemia by using biocomputational strategies to identify specific genes that contribute to the survival of cancer cells.

“I came in without much experience, but my mentors have been really supportive,” he remarked.

No matter the amount of lab experience an applicant has, the program is a great place to start or continue conducting research in a professional setting.

“When I was a freshman, it was very intimidating to get into research. This program is great because it accommodates all levels,” said Camryn Franke, a rising senior.

Franke has been a research assistant to Tanja Gruber, MD, her mentor, for over two years. This summer, Franke continued her work screening antigens identified in a proteomics analysis of cells from a patient-derived xenograft murine model for potential as immunotherapeutic targets. 

She is also enrolled in Stanford’s Biomedical Informatics coterminal masters program, a much larger program in terms of size. Franke appreciates the small, close-knit environment the pilot program provides. Because the program only accepts six applicants per cycle, the group is able to interact, collaborate, and socialize on a regular basis to build community.

“There has been this nice sense of community that has been established in the small group we have,” said Jennifer Hamad, a rising junior. “All around, it’s really been a remarkable experience. Nothing compares to spending a summer getting to do research that you really, really love to do.”

Hamad studied in the Mackall Lab to develop a novel cancer immunotherapy that can alter the tumor microenvironment and upregulate the activity of T-cells by exploiting their endogenous regulatory capabilities.

“Within the last six weeks, my understanding and knowledge of what I’m doing in the lab and different research techniques have just skyrocketed. I have learned a lot and grown a lot in the time period that I’ve been here,” Hamad said.

Over the course of the program, students are expected to attend regular SCI seminars and faculty talks, such as the Stanford Cancer Institute Breakthroughs in Cancer seminar series, where they can network and meet colleagues in related research fields. Students were provided a $6,000 stipend with an additional $3,000 allowance for housing so they can devote their complete attention to their research.

“It’s truly been remarkable over the summer. Just the opportunity to get to work in an environment doing work that you love to do is fantastic,” Hamad said.

August 2023 by Kai Zheng