Cancer in the Under-Privileged Indigent or Disadvantaged

CUPID Summer Research Program

Shadow oncologists in underserved communities

The mission of CUPID — Cancer in the Under-Privileged Indigent or Disadvantaged — is to address the impending shortage of practicing oncologists within the United States and to cultivate an interest in cancer treatment and research among medical students with an interest in underserved populations who have not yet fully defined their career plans.

What we are trying to do is say, ‘We’re glad you’re interested in taking care of under-served populations. Please consider taking care of them with respect to oncology and cancer, because that group—cancer patients—are really in need.’

Richard Zellars, MD — CUPID program founder and Chair of Radiation Oncology

How the CUPID program works

The CUPID program is a unique eight-week summer research experience for rising second-year medical students to gain exposure to oncology. Students complete a longitudinal research project in an oncology basic science laboratory and participate in structured shadowing with medical, surgical and radiation oncology​ to gain clinical experience in the core specialties of cancer care.

There are daily lunchtime lectures delivered in collaboration with Johns Hopkins and Ohio State University (lunch provided). Presentations are delivered by world renowned experts from all three institutions covering the basic science and epidemiology of cancer, management of specific cancers, and oncologic healthcare disparities.

In addition, “Careers in Oncology” lectures throughout the summer offer insights into the daily life of different oncology specialties, and the path to practice from medical student to faculty. ​At the conclusion of the summer, students present their research at a formal cancer-center wide seminar.

As part of the CUPID program, students travel to Washington, DC to participate in a cancer advocacy program hosted by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS). Students will learn about advocacy, hear from cancer survivors about the unique challenges faced in survivorship, and will meet with their elected officials to advocate for legislation that address cancer survivorship.

The CUPID program offered me the incredible opportunity to meet cancer survivors and advocates and hear their incredible stories. I learned how to talk to my state representative about topics that matter and use advocacy to work towards positive change. I have been able to stay connected with the advocates I met and feel empowered to reach out to my representatives about topics that matter to me and those around me.

Clayton Hicks — CUPID 2023 Student

Housing and Transportation

Housing is available for students who are not primarily based at the Indianapolis campus or who are from outside medical schools.


Contact Jordan Holmes, CUPID director, at



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