Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE) Program: Engaging Undergraduates from Diverse Backgrounds in Cancer Research

J Cancer Educ. 2023 Jan 13;1-6. doi: 10.1007/s13187-022-02247-8. Online ahead of print.


Diversifying the future cancer research workforce requires that students engage in cancer research, persist in paths toward science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) fields, and choose cancer research careers. The Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE) Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, designed in 2010 to engage undergraduate (U) and post-baccalaureate (PB) students from diverse backgrounds in cancer research, is an 8-week summer program pairing an U or PB student with a faculty mentor to conduct cancer research. We report demographics and career paths for 2010-2019 SCORE students. Of 116 students, 112 (97%) attended public universities, and 75 (64%) were in their first 2 years of college. Race/ethnicity was Black/African American, 20 (17%); Hispanic/Latinx, 15 (13%); multiracial, five (4%); Asian, 40 (34%); White/Caucasian, 36 (31%). A total of 112 (97%) identified as female; 47 (41%) were first-generation college students, and 85 (73%) were from immigrant families. As of 2021, 114 (98%) persisted in paths toward STEMM careers: 44 (38%) medical school (MS) students, 14 (12%) residents, two (2%) practicing physicians, 12 (10%) pursuing non-MD STEMM advanced degrees, 21 (18%) working in non-MD STEMM fields, 17 (15%) applying to MS, and 4 (3%) U science majors. Cancer research participation significantly increased from 5% pre- to 84% post-SCORE. A total of 63/116 (54%) students subsequently co-authored 152 peer-reviewed publications, including 105 (69%) in oncology. SCORE engaged underrepresented U and PB students in cancer research, and 98% of these students persisted in paths toward STEMM careers. Long-term follow-up is needed to assess the enduring engagement of these underrepresented students in cancer research.

Keywords: Cancer research; Student internship; Summer; Training outcomes; Undergraduate.