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HOPP Summer Student Program at MSKCC - 7 Reasons To Apply

As a high school student, participating in pre-college programs and internships can help boost your college applications and future career. When you choose a program focused on a particular field, it shows admission officers your dedication to your chosen subject, and that you can apply theoretical knowledge practically. College applications that show you’ve done the hard work to go beyond the standard curriculum have a definitive advantage – and these programs offer that opportunity. Not only that, but such programs or internships are a chance to get hands-on experience in your chosen field, develop critical thinking skills, and build a network of peers and mentors in that field.

If you’re a student passionate about clinical research, the HOPP Summer Student Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) is a great opportunity that you can consider!

What is the HOPP Summer Student Program?

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), located in New York, is one of the world’s leading cancer research and treatment centers, known for its innovation in the field. MSKCC’s Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) Summer Student Program is designed to help students understand the nature of laboratory work and better understand what careers in translational cancer research may entail. During this 8-week program, you’ll also conduct independent research, and attend training sessions and tours that can support your interest in the clinical side of translational research and (hopefully) fuel your curiosity.

Who is eligible to apply?

The program is ideal for high school students who are knowledgeable, self-motivated, and passionate about science. Students from disadvantaged and underprivileged backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Those applying must:

  1. Have completed at least 9th grade by June 2024

  2. Have a genuine interest in science and laboratory research

  3. Have a 3.5 GPA in science subjects

  4. Be eligible to work in the United States

  5. Be at least 14 years old by June 2024

What does the HOPP Summer Student Program cover?

How is it structured?

This intensive program is focused on two specific areas: independent research and extracurricular activities. It is structured like a laboratory research internship.

Each student will be assigned to a biomedical or computational lab-based internship at MSKCC. You will be paired with a HOPP principal investigator (PI), who will match each of you with a mentor — typically a senior member from the lab, such as a postdoctoral fellow, graduate student, or research technician. Under their guidance, you will conduct an independent research project that adds value to your mentor and/or PI’s overall research objectives.

HOPP’s research spans multiple cancer types, and its scientists employ innovative technologies, often redefining how we find, develop, and test new cancer therapies. As a student in this program, you will be contributing to this very research.

Over the course of the program, your mentor and PI will supervise your research activities, help you develop the required skill set, and guide your research. At the end of the program, you will be expected to present your research at a poster session.

Participating in laboratory meetings and program sessions, you will engage with numerous people in your assigned labs, and within the MSKCC community. Not to mention the valuable set of lab and research skills you’ll learn!

You will also have the opportunity to explore avenues outside the laboratory by participating in extracurricular events. These activities will encourage you to become fully immersed in the world of translational medicine and research. The events are hosted by programs throughout Memorial Sloan Kettering, including the Office of Diversity, various Memorial Hospital clinical departments, and Human Resources.

Here’s a breakdown of all the activities included in this program:

  1. Laboratory and/or computation-based research projects

  2. Participation in postdoctoral-student-led journal clubs

  3. Participation in journal clubs led by students in the HOPP Summer Student Program

  4. Luncheons with HOPP principal investigators

  5. Laboratory tours

  6. Team-building and social networking sessions

For more information on the program, HOPP conducts a few seminars (virtual and in-person) you can attend!

The program’s logistics: Dates, Eligibility, Location, Stipend & More

The program will be conducted on the Main Campus of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NY. The program is not residential – the center does not provide students’ housing, transportation or meals. Students are responsible for their own travel to and from the center. The center will provide some housing resource information to those accepted into the program.

For the 8-week program, students receive a total stipend of $1,200.

Typically, the program runs from the end of June to mid-August. Last year, the program was conducted June 29 - August 26. To be considered a graduate of the program and receive the stipend, you must complete all eight weeks of the program.

This is a full-time internship, so you are expected to commit to 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. Your hours may vary depending on the mentor’s schedule, but are usually 9AM - 5PM or 10AM - 6PM.

Applications for the 2024 HOPP Summer Student Program will open on December 4, 2023. Click here to apply! Applications typically close in January.

You have to apply through the online application system and will be notified if you’re accepted by early Spring. Once you’ve been accepted, you must confirm your participation within 3 days. If you don’t, you will forfeit your spot.

The application includes 2 recommendation letters – these must be strong recommendations from an academic advisor or scientific advisor in order to be considered for the program. The letter should come from someone who can attest to your knowledge, interest, and strength in science, chemistry, and/or biology. Recommendation letters from family or friends will not be accepted.

Is the HOPP Summer Student Program prestigious?

As one of the most well-known cancer research and diagnosis centers, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) is a prestigious institution to begin your research journey at. MSKCC programs are generally well-regarded and are considered to be strong additions to a student’s academic journey.

With the average acceptance rate being less than 10% every year, the HOPP Summer Student Program is fairly competitive.

7 Reasons to Apply to HOPP

  1. You will engage in laboratory work and develop research skills: You will have a unique opportunity to dive into hands-on laboratory work, learn how to conduct research and develop a valuable skill set. Exposure like this, at such an early stage, will give you a leg-up when it comes to future academics. Typically, you would be exposed to this level of work and expertise only in college or during your postgraduate studies. Listen to students describing their experience of the program.

  2. This program will give your college applications a strong edge: College admissions officers appreciate applications that go beyond the standard. A program like this, where you learn about translational research in a real-life laboratory, shows college officers that you can supplement your theoretical knowledge with practical application. It also displays a commitment to your subject, since you’ve gone beyond the school curriculum to develop your skills and capabilities. The fact that you got selected for it also shows your caliber!

  3. You will work at world-renowned state-of-the-art labs, receiving personalized mentorship and guidance: MSKCC is a world-renowned research center, where some of the country’s top scientists do cutting-edge work. With more than 120 research laboratories to maintain a set of dynamic research programs, you will be working with top-notch facilities, tools and tech. The mentor assigned to you would be a senior member from the lab, such as a postdoctoral fellow, graduate student, or research technician. Your mentors will play a crucial role in guiding and supporting you throughout the program, providing individualized assistance and insights into your independent research work. This one-on-one mentorship fosters a supportive and enriching learning environment.

  4. The program is not just fully-funded, but you also receive a stipend: Apart from having no cost to participate, the program provides participants with a total stipend of $1,200. This makes it more accessible to talented students who may not otherwise have the financial resources to move to another city/state and pay for food, housing, transport, etc for the duration of the program.

  5. You will work with some of the top scientists and researchers, interact with peers, creating invaluable connections: As mentioned above, MSKCC labs are where some of the top scientists, researchers, and industry experts conduct their work at. Not only will one of these be the principal investigator assigned to you, one will also be your individual mentor. Apart from the valuable insight and learnings you will pick up working with your mentor and PI, you will also be interacting with other researchers and your peers at your assigned lab. Collaborating with some of the top scientific minds will really boost your confidence, help fuel your curiosity, and take you further in your academic journey. The peers you’ll have the chance to meet during the program are people you could build a strong network with, a network that can extend beyond the confines of the program. This kind of a network can open doors to future projects, internships, and even career opportunities.

  6. You will contribute to cutting-edge cancer research that makes a difference: During the program, your research will contribute to advancing scientific understanding and creating impactful change in the realm of targeted cancer therapies. HOPP stands at the forefront of cancer research, addressing the complexities of the disease in the age of targeted treatments. Your participation directly supports the translation of molecular discoveries into clinical trials, as you work on some of the center’s innovative therapies. Working alongside diverse experts, you’ll contribute to studies in skin, colon, prostate, breast, lung, thyroid cancers, and more.

  7. You will get a chance to develop skills beyond research: The HOPP Summer Student program encourages students to participate in a range of extracurricular activities. In fact, these activities are integral to the program itself. From team- building events to luncheons with PIs and journal clubs, these activities will ensure a well-rounded learning experience, as you upskill not only academically, but holistically.

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to further explore research opportunities in medicine you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: MSKCC logo


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