Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Summer Research Program

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center logo

As part of the University of Missouri’s NextGen Precision Health Initiative, the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is developing novel approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. To develop a diverse and well-trained cancer research workforce, the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center has developed a Summer Research Program that will provide undergraduate students with an immersive 9-week training program in cancer biology.

Students in this program will carry out a cancer research project under the guidance of Ellis Fischel faculty mentors and participate in seminars and other activities that will enrich their understanding of new technologies that are revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Students in the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Summer Research Program will participate in a fully loaded and exciting series of events including professional development seminars, key-note speakers, professional headshots, networking receptions, and immersive experiences. Ever wonder how cancer connects a research reactor, a veterinary medical center, and a cancer center? Throughout this experience you will see firsthand how the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is moving cancer research and treatment forward.

Applicants should have completed their sophomore or junior year in an undergraduate STEM major and have a strong interest in pursuing a career in cancer research or treatment. Prior laboratory experience is preferred. Students must be US citizens or permanent residents.

Students will receive a stipend of $4,770 paid in installments.  Cost of transportation to/from Columbia, on-campus housing (double occupancy) and a meal plan will also be provided.

The deadline to apply is February 20, 2022. Students must complete the application form and provide an unofficial transcript (including Fall 2021 grades); letters of recommendation (two preferred); a resumé; and a personal statement indicating career plans, prior research experience, and research interests. Documents will be submitted with the online application.

Letters of recommendation may be sent directly to the Office of Undergraduate Research via e-mail to ugr@missouri.edu. Questions can be directed to the MU Office of Undergraduate Research via e-mail or phone, 573-882-5979.

2022 Summer Program Application


2022 Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Summer Program Faculty Mentors

Carolyn Anderson, PhD – https://chemistry.missouri.edu/people/anderson

The development of novel radiometal tracers, molecular imaging and theranostic agents targeting various types of cancer, with a focus on metastatic melanoma, from chemistry to first-in-human studies.

Jeffrey Bryan, DVM, PhD, MS – https://muidsi.missouri.edu/person/jeffrey-n-bryan/

Comparative examination of cancers in companion animals to better understand cancers in all species; targeted imaging and therapy and epigenetics of cancer.

Donald Burke-Aguero, PhD – https://bondlsc.missouri.edu/person/donald-burke-aguero/

Exploring the many roles of ribonucleic acid, or RNA; using cell biology, biochemistry, and sophisticated computational approaches to compare millions of RNA molecules, looking for the ones that can do helpful jobs.

Chiswili Yves Chabu, PhD – https://biology.missouri.edu/people/chabu

Oncogenic mutations in EGFR or RAS activate a complex network of cell-cell signaling events in the cancer microenvironment. These signals promote cancer growth, metastasis, cancer immune escape, and drug resistance. We are interested in delineating these mechanisms to identify actionable targets against EGFR/RAS cancers.

Ye Duan, PhD – https://engineering.missouri.edu/faculty/ye-duan/

Interested in furthering the fields of computer graphics, computer vision, machine learning, and biomedical imaging; electrical engineering and computer science; 3D Deep learning; fully automated deep neural networks; hybrid deep convolutional neural network model.

W. Barry Edwards, PhD – https://cafnr.missouri.edu/person/barry-edwards/

Developing radiotracers for diagnostic imaging and targeted radiotherapy of cancer. PHI Focus Area: Radiology. Research interests include development optical probes for optical imaging of enzyme activity and the development of phage displayed and combinatorial peptide libraries for discovery of ligands for molecular imaging.

Aaron Ericsson, DVM, PhD – http://vpbio.missouri.edu/faculty/Aaron_Ericsson.html

Identifying the molecular mechanisms by which host-associated microbiomes influence susceptibility to disease and adverse health conditions, as well as response to treatment to those diseases. Understanding the relative influence of maternal and neonatal microbiomes on immuno- and neurodevelopment, and susceptibility to disease later in life, ranging from colorectal cancer to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Jorge G. Gomez-Gutierrez, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/jorge-gomez-gutierrez-phd

Microbial-Based Cancer Therapy; virus and bacteria based therapies effect on tumorigenesis; inducing oncolysis and/or immune responses in cancers when conventional therapy is inadequate; conditional replication of adenovirus (CRAd), conditional replication of oncolytic adenovirous (OAd); lactic acid bacteria Lctococcus lactis (L. Lactis) which is generally regarded as a safe (GRAS) organism and is used in dairy industry to make cheese and yogurt.

Mark Hannink, PhD – https://cafnr.missouri.edu/person/mark-hannink/

Novel mitochondrial targets for cancer therapeutics.

Heather Hennkens, PhD – https://chemistry.missouri.edu/people/hennkens
Jussuf Kaifi, MD, PhD – https://www.muhealth.org/doctors/jussuf-kaifi-md

Identifying the molecular mechanisms of micro metastatic tumor spread by which malignant cells detach from the primary tumor undetected by standard imaging and eventually cause metastases in distant organs as the major final cause of cancer-associated deaths. Mechanisms in which tumor cells circulate in the blood and settle in other organs to grow to solid tumors will allow for the identification of pharmacological targets that can be exploited to destroy malignant disease and increase cure rates of cancer patients.

Xunlei Kang, MD, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/xunlei-kang-md-phd

Hematopoietic stem cell study; Leukemia stem cell study; SUMO modification study; Fasting selectively blocks development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia via leptin-receptor upregulation; Inhibitory leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors: immune checkpoint proteins and tumor sustaining factors; A novel ITIM receptor-mediated signaling pathway is essential for acute myeloid leukemia development.

Margaret Lange-Osborn, PhD – https://scholars.umsystem.edu/scholar/stack/13556/MARGARET-LANGE-OSBORN?instId=7&unitId=1067&unitType=2

Understanding the mechanisms underlying recognition of nucleic acids by pattern recognition receptors and how these recognition events shape immune responses to inform design and development of novel immunomodulators for precise, tunable regulation of cellular signaling pathways across diverse cancer types.

Jane McElroy, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/jane-mcelroy-phd

Studies health issues, both in the general population and among LGBTQ individuals. She co-created Project LOLA (Living Out and Living Actively) to help lesbian and bisexual women better understand health matters and to provide more access to resources. McElroy found that, due in part to health inequalities, demographic trends indicate an increase in chronic conditions among gender and sexual minorities. She has examined causes of endometrial cancer and has worked with geographical information systems. And, in collaboration with physician Shamita Misra, she discovered that daily practice of Pranayama yoga could significantly lower blood pressure.

Jonathan Mitchem, MD – https://muidsi.missouri.edu/person/jonathan-b-mitchem/

Applicability and efficacy of immune based therapy in colorectal cancer, chemotherapy on T cell exhaustion and the utility of bioinformatic techniques to determine dysregulated immune pathways in CRC, impact of innate immune cell activation in the tumor microenvironment, immune modeling of human tumors using organoid models, genomic/biomedical informatics in cancer, deconvolutional approaches to bulk RNA-sequencing data and single nucleus RNA-sequencing.

Michael Petris, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/michael-petris-phd

Pathways of copper acquisition and handling to promote tumor survival and metastasis. Copper; Cancer; Infectious disease; Nutrition; Metals. Molecular biology
Cancer biology; Nutrition; Cell biology; Biochemistry; Metabolism; Animal models of disease.

Haval Shirwan, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/haval-shirwan-phd

Immune engineering as a platform to modulate immune responses in health and disease. Development of novel immune ligands (biologics) and their targeted delivery using various platforms (biomaterials, live vectors) for immunomodulation with focus on cancer immunotherapy and immunoprevention, vaccinology, autoimmunity (type 1 diabetes as primary focus) and transplantation.

Charles Jeffrey Smith, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/charles-jeff-smith-phd

Radiopharmaceutical sciences design, focusing on development of novel theranotic probes for prostate and breast cancer detection and therapy. 1. Main group chemistry including inorganic and organometallic polymers; 2) Design and development of polydentate, water-soluble, complexing agents for technetium and rhenium radiometals; 3. Radiopharmaceutical design and development including isotope processing and purification, radiotracer design based upon small molecule ligand frameworks and large molecule cell-targeting agents, and in vitro and in vivo diagnostic/therapeutic probe development investigations. 4) Monovalent and bivalent analogs and nanoparticles of gastrin releasing peptide (GRP), prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), and RGD (arginine-glycine-glutamic acid) radiolabeled with In-111, Y-86/90, Lu-177, Au-198/199, Ga-67/68, and Cu-64.

Jack Tanner, PhD – https://cafnr.missouri.edu/person/jack-tanner/

Structural biology; development of proline analogues as cancer therapeutics.

Bret Ulery, PhD – https://engineering.missouri.edu/faculty/bret-ulery/

Design of biomaterials for medicinal applications, specifically focusing on generating engineered solutions capable of providing the cues necessary to facilitate in situ bioactivity. Current efforts are on addressing new approaches for cancer therapy, vaccine delivery, autoimmune treatment, and orthopedic tissue repair.

Gary Weisman, PhD – https://cafnr.missouri.edu/person/gary-weisman/

Targeting P2X7 and P2Y2 receptors for extracellular nucleotides to prevent tumor growth, immune cells activation and inflammatory disease. Key Terms: Nucleotides; Autoimmune Diseases; Nucleotide receptors; Autoimmune exocrine diseases; Inflammation in signaling.

Timothy Wolf, PhD – https://healthprofessions.missouri.edu/personnel/timothy-wolf/

Concepts of Neuroscience, application of evidence based practice, and functional cognition. Key interests: nucleotides; Autoimmune Diseases; Nucleotide receptors; Autoimmune exocrine diseases; Inflammation in signaling. stroke; mcst; rehabilitation; mild; efpt; participation; pqrs; performance; nihtb; cognitive; individuals; ctpa; care; ot; participants; post; battery; op; self; occupational; activities; validity; executive; work; activity.

Dong Xu, PhD – https://engineering.missouri.edu/faculty/dong-xu/

Bioinformatics, machine learning, protein structure prediction, post-translational modification prediction, high-throughput biological data analyses, silico studies of plants, microbes and cancers, and mobile App development for healthcare.

Iris Zachary, PhD – https://medicine.missouri.edu/faculty/iris-zachary-phd

Cancer Registry, SEER, Public health informatics, chronic disease and condition data, public health research development, cancer informatics, connected communities.