Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Cancer Research Training Program (UCRTP)
Education And Training Research
The Education and Training Program under the umbrella of the CDU/UCLA Cancer Center Partnership is dedicated to training undergraduate, graduate and medical students, as well as fellows, and early stage investigators to cancer research training, encourage them to pursue or advance their careers in this area, and implement a formalized mentorship program, whereby junior research investigators are counseled and mentored through their career development. The Division of Cancer Research and Training which houses the CDU Partner of the CDU/UCLA Cancer Center has to date, under the lead of Dr. Jay Vadgama, participated in the training of over 50 postdoctoral fellows, 13 clinical residents, 20 graduate and medical students, more than 120 undergraduate students across the nation and several high school students. Many of the students are on a positive trajectory to further their careers. For example, several of the undergraduate trainees have successfully matriculated into graduate or medical school and several post-doctoral fellows have received faculty appointments as Early-Stage Investigators.

The summer UCRTP program is eight to 12 week full-time experience for 10-12 outstanding underrepresented undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in biomedical sciences and have an interest in health disparities. Trainees accepted into the program are matched with a faculty mentor at CDU or UCLA and will participate in research with a hypothesis-driven cancer health disparities question. In addition to hands-on research training, students will participant in weekly Cancer Journal Club at CDU, which is a CME- accredited series dedicated to cancer health disparities research in the basic, clinical and community sciences. Trainees will receive instruction from their mentors and the UCRTP regarding careers in biomedical sciences and careers serving the underserved. Additional training will include development and preparation of a research thesis, and formal presentations at lab meetings, and the Cancer Journal Club at CDU.

The goal of the UCRTP is to ensure that each undergraduate student acquires the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become a proficient researcher in cancer health disparities. On completion of the program, each undergraduate trainee will have developed a research paper based on the findings of the ancillary project to be given to his or her lead mentor for evaluation and feedback. Students will then present their findings before a local or national conference, to be determined by the student’s lead mentor.


Please use the online application form available at: Application

Dr. Jay Vadgama

Program Coordinator:

Jacob De La Torre

Diversity-Promoting Institution Drug Abuse Research Program (DIDARP)
DIDARP’s education program is a training research program funded by NIH in 2014 (R24DA017298). It is a year-round training that provides opportunity for 10 students to work on drug abuse research projects and in various Labs at CDU. The program has four primary mentors.  DIDARP is a continuation of MIDARP (2008-2012), which trained 70 students (mostly undergraduates, as well as high school, post-baccalaureate, medical and graduate students). The students are recruited nationwide and receive a stipend.

The goals of the DIDARP are to foster interest in substance abuse research among under-represented students and other trainees by providing meaningful educational and research experiences; to increase the number of high quality drug addiction research projects related to the metabolic effects of nicotine and to continue to enhance the research infrastructure at CDU to support substance abuse research.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Theodore Friedman,
(310) 668-5197