The Summer Program for Academic Research in Cancer

Spend your summer exploring cancer research

The Summer Program for Academic Research in Cancer (SPARC) at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center provides cancer research career pathways for undergraduate and medical students.

2023 summer participant Ellen Trautman

This program provides in-person, mentored, high-quality, cancer-focused research experiences along with professional development workshops to undergraduate and first-year medical students to prepare them for careers in science, medicine, and other cancer-related fields.

  • Interact with one of the cancer center research programs, shared facilities, and more than 100 world-renowned investigators
  • Gain exposure to a wide range of basic science, translational, and clinical research activities
  • Continually interact with and learn from other students, clinical and post-doctoral fellows, and faculty
  • Clinical shadowing with physician-scientist mentors in case of medical student trainees
  • Networking events
  • Receive a stipend (payment)

The application deadline for the 2024 summer cohort has passed. Please check back in Q4 2024 to apply for the 2025 summer cohort.

Meet 2023 SPARC participant

Hunter Quigley

We asked Hunter Quigley a few questions about his summer experience.

Read More

Program Dates: Monday, May 20 – Friday, July 26, 2024

Who should apply?

SPARC is designed to serve graduating high school seniors, undergraduate students and first-year medical students interested in cancer research.

All federally funded programs require candidates to be U.S. citizens or green card holders.

How do I apply?

Medical students should apply to SPARC through the IMPRS program application process and must be an IU School of Medicine medical student in phase 1 year 1, and in good standing.

Please read all of the instructions carefully to ensure accurate completion and correct processing of this application.

Academic Transcripts: Your application will require you to upload school transcripts. Please prepare by downloading them from your school or requesting a copy from your school’s administration.

Personal Statement: Please prepare a document in which you describe why you are interested in participating in a summer research program. You will upload it to the application.

Recommendation Letter: All applicants must provide one (1) letter of recommendation. When you complete the General Information part of the application, you will receive a link to provide an email address for the individual who will be writing your letter of recommendation. This individual will then be automatically notified of your request.  We strongly suggest that you speak with your recommender beforehand and get their approval before you provide their email on your application link.

Housing and Transportation

The cancer center provides housing support to a portion of accepted students based on need, but slots are limited. Housing is a shared apartment-style unit with full appliances. Applicants from outside central Indiana who do not receive and/or need housing support have the option to stay with family or friends who live within 40 miles of the IU Indianapolis campus.


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