CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Experience

CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Experience - Summer Undergrad ICPRF

Innovation in Cancer Prevention Research

Summer Undergraduate Innovation in Cancer Prevention Research Fellowship

Welcome to the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)-UTHealth Fellowship in Innovation for Cancer Prevention Research (ICPR) – UTHealth’s training program for undergraduates, pre- and post-doctoral fellowships in cancer prevention. This program goes beyond being a quality cancer education and career development program to focus on helping those seeking a career in cancer prevention and control research to learn to ask the important research questions, apply cutting-edge methods, and move the field of cancer forward.

Contact Olusegun Popoola, MD, MPH, 713-500-9617, for further information.

An Innovative Summer

Do you like to think outside of the box?

We want to get you interested in innovative cancer prevention research as a career.

Application for the 2018 Summer fellowship!

The application will be active from December 1, 2017, to February 7, 2018!

Flier 2018


The program is generously funded by the UTHealth Innovation in Cancer Prevention & Research Training Program (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant #RP140103). The CPRIT program was created in 2007 as part of a voter-approved constitutional amendment authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas.

You can find out more about CPRIT at their website:


Take the innovative thinking course by the head of the program, Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., who literally wrote the book on innovation: Innovation Generation: How to Produce Creative and Useful Scientific Ideas  as well as Genius Unmasked and Creativity in the Sciences: A Workbook Companion to Innovation Generation. Her newest book, The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility, was released in December of 2014.

Creativity Crisis Book Cover

Dr. Ness is now offering a self-paced course on innovation and how to think creatively. The course begins on June 4, 2018, but you can complete it on your own time. Enroll in IMAGINE99x - Reinvent yourself: Unleash your creativity on edX now! View the course about video below.

Click below to see the TedXHouston talk, "Innovative thinking: Can you be taught?" with Roberta B. Ness, MD, MPH

Potential mentor


Bijal Balasubramanian, MBBS, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Dallas

Project: Care coordination for complex cancer survivors in an integrated safety-net system.


Paula Cuccaro, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Social Marketing and Mobile School-Based Vaccination Clinics: An Innovative Approach to Increase HPV Vaccination


Jeffrey T. Chang, PhD

McGovern Medical School, Houston


Faculty Profile: Link


Enmanuel A. Chavarria, Ph.D., CHES

UTHealth School of Public Health, Brownsville



Courtney Byrd-Williams, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Austin

Project: Starting cancer prevention early


Jeffrey Frost, PhD

McGovern Medical School, Houston

Project: Molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis


Maria E. Fernandez, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: For Our Children: A Tailored multi-level intervention for parents and healthcare providers to increase HPV vaccination rates”


Kayo Fujimoto, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Young Men’s Affiliation Project (YMAP): A study of social networks and HIV among YMSM


Yang Gong, MD, PhD

UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics, Houston

Project 1: Learning from patient safety events: Identifying and synchronizing Health IT events using deep learning classifier

Project 2: Investigating technology-induced Errors via Natural Language Processing (NLP)


Leng Han, PhD

UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), Houston

Project: Dissecting novel genetic elements from human cancers


Deanna M Hoelscher, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Austin

Project: Measuring Obesity in Children in Texas: the TX School Physical Activity & Nutrition (SPAN) study


Katelyn Jetelina, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Dallas

Project: Intimate Partner Violence among Breast and Cervical Cancer Survivors


Harold W. (Bill) Kohl, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Austin

Project: Determinants of Transportation-Related Physical Activity


Dung-Fang Lee, PhD

McGovern Medical School, Houston

Project: Hereditary bone cancer in a dish


Hongyu Miao, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Applications of novel computing techniques in deep mining time-course data


Alan Nyitray, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Designing computer-assisted self-interviews to better understand anal cancer screening modalities

Faculty profile: Click Link


Belinda Reininger, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Brownsville

Project: Tu Salud Si Cuenta” Your Health count”


Ruosha Li, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Statistical modeling and prediction methodsStatistical modeling and prediction methods


Lara S. Savas, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Health in My Hands - A community-based program to increase breast and cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination to reduce the impact of breast and cervical cancer among Latinas


Shreela Sharma, LD, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, Houston

Project: Brighter Bites


Laura Aubree Shay, PhD

UTHealth School of Public Health, San Antonio

Project: Medical management and HPV vaccination among childhood cancer survivors

Faculty profile: Click Link


Cui Tao, PhD

UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics, Houston

Project 1: TIMER: Temporal Information Modeling, Extraction, and Reasoning

Project 2: Using informatics technology to open new possibilities to fight cancer


Tao Cui, PhD

I have served as the mentor for three CPRIT undergraduate students over the past two years. It has been a very rewarding experience for both me and the summer students who worked in my lab.  The CPRIT program allows the mentor and the students to work on biomedical research of their interests. All my CPRIT summer students were able to complete research projects that lead to peer-reviewed full articles.

Yang Gong, MD, PhD

During 2015 summer, we actively engaged in the program and recruited a rising sophomore in Computer Science at UT Austin to our Patient Safety project. The experience stimulated enthusiasm for scientific research, which will be helpful for determining her career goal. On the other hand, her participation brought novel ideas to our project and accelerated our research progress.

Kayo Fujimoto, PhD

My CPRIT fellows were great. They were very creative, action-oriented, and hard workers. They contributed significantly to adding different perspectives/components to the operation of my projects. Specifically, they created a video that introduces our study to participants, set up the study's twitter and Facebook accounts, and study website. They also actively participated in weekly project meetings proposing new ideas and expressing their opinions. I believe that CPRIT summer program provides fellows with great opportunities to think creatively, implement their ideas, and learn how research is conducted, while tackling challenging issues encounter in project operations. 

Select publications by previous Summer undergraduates

  • Rebecca Lin*, Muhammad Tuan Amith, Chen Liang, Cui Tao, "Designing an ontology for emotion-driven visual representations", 2017 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), pp. 1280-1283, 2017, doi:10.1109/BIBM.2017.8217844

  • Henry Chen*,  Jingcheng Du, Hsing-Yi Song, Xiangyu Liu,  Guoqian Jiang, Cui Tao, Ontological Representation of Time-Relevant Common Data Elements in the Cancer Data Standards Repository, JMIR Medical Informatics (in press)
  • Haidar, A., Carey, F., Ranjit, N., Archer, N., & Hoelscher, D. (2017). Self-reported use of nutrition labels to make food choices is associated with healthier dietary behaviours in adolescents. Public Health Nutrition, 1-11. doi:10.1017/S1368980017001252

  • CL Crowe*, Cui Tao,  Designing Ontology-based Patterns for the Representation of the Time-Relevant Eligibility Criteria of Clinical Protocols. AMIA Jt Summits Transl Sci Proc. 2015 Mar 25;2015:173-7. PMID: 26306263
  • D Wang*, R Cunningham, J Boom, M Amith, C Tao, Towards a HPV vaccine knowledgebase for patient education content, Nursing Informatics (accepted)

* indicates CPRIT summer students. 

How to Apply

Click on the link in the box to the right to download the application form and instructions.

Note: If google chrome does not work for application download, please try other browsers e.g, Internet Explorer

Application will be available on December 1st, 2017

All Letters of Recommendation are due no later than February 10, 2018

Finalist will be notified on February 28, 2018

Fellowship start date and sign-up (on-site): June 4, 2018


If you have additional questions or would like more information about CPRIT Summer Undergraduate Research, please contact:

Olusegun Popoola, MD, MPH
Division of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences
7000 Fannin Street
Suite 2554H
Houston, TX 77030
Phone 713-500-9617
Email: CPRITsummer@uth.tmc.edu

Click above to view poster presentations

Frequently Asked Questions by Applicants

Q: Who is eligible to apply?

A: All undergraduate students in colleges and Universities across the United States.


Q: What writing samples should I submit?

A: Your personal statement should at least detail your experience, why you are interested in the fellowship and what you hope to do with the experience in the future.

Q: Can I apply if I have a G.P.A of less than 3.5?

A: Yes you can. Any GPA above 3.0 will be considered along with your entire application packet.

Q: Can I submit unofficial transcripts? 

A: Unofficial transcripts will suffice during the review of your application. If accepted to the fellowship, official transcripts will be required before you can be appointed. If you believe your official transcript will not arrive before the deadline, we suggest submitting unofficial transcripts with your application. Request official transcripts from your university as soon as possible.


Q: I am an international student on F1 visa. Can I apply for this fellowship?

A: Yes. International students currently enrolled in a US college or university can also apply. After acceptance into the program you will be required to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from the office of international affairs in your home institution.


Q: Can I submit letters of recommendation, or do they have to be sent directly by the recommender? 

A: All letters of recommendation should be sent to cpritsummer@uth.tmc.edu by the writer. Although we may accept letters sent directly by you, this practice is strongly discouraged.


Q: Do all materials need to be sent electronically?

A: Yes. The application should be sent in as a pdf document. Submit electronically to: CPRITsummer@uth.tmc.edu. Please follow the directions listed on the application regarding the naming convention of files. Official transcripts may either be emailed (if your institution participates in this practice) or sent directly to: 

Olusegun Popoola, MD, MPH

UTHealth School of Public Health

7000 Fannin, UCT 2554H

Houston, TX 77030


Q: I was selected as a semifinalist. What does that mean? 

A: It means that you have been selected to participate in the Interviews that will be conducted by the faculty mentor. The mentors and their individual projects will be listed on the website under the tab: Research Opp details. At this point, you can contact the faculty via email to show interest in their project.