Oncology Physician Training Initiative to Maximize Diversity

First year Medical Students from underrepresented groups (URiM) are invited to apply for a unique summer experience to explore a career in the field of oncology while giving back to their community.  Applicants should have an interest in obtaining experience in a clinical field of oncology (medical, surgical or radiation oncology), clinical and translational oncology research, as well as a desire to contribute to developing the next generation of clinicians and scientists by serving as mentors to youth from underrepresented groups in the Rutgers University Youth Enjoy Science (RUYES) program. 

Program Goals:

  • Provide clinical and research exposure to medical students from URiM to explore a career in the various fields of oncology – medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, etc.
  • Provide a platform for medical students from URiM to give back to their community and serve as role models and mentors to high school and undergraduate students who are a part of the RUYES program
  • Give medical students a peer-mentor to bond with during the summer research time at Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Foster relationships that can become the building blocks for a network of mentors and sponsors to support career growth of both the medical student and the RUYES student


  • Eight-week long summer program in oncology. Includes 5 weeks of cancer-focused research and 3 weeks of clinical shadowing rotations in surgical, medical and radiation oncology. 
  • Creation and presentation of a research poster to be presented at the joint OPTIM and RUYES Poster Symposium in August.
  • Meet with RUYES high school and undergraduate students during summer for informal talks, lunches and professional development to share details and offer feedback on student projects.
  • Career talk/personal journey (“How I got to medical school”) for RUYES at a high school or undergrad class of the mentee.
  • Post-summer opportunities to continue meeting and sustaining mentor relationship, including funded movie/dinner, visit science museum, etc.

Who is Eligible?
This program is for students in their 1st year of medical school. Applicants must be from one of the groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences as per National Institutes of Health criteria.

2023 Cohort 2 Participant Projects

2022 Cohort 1 Participant Projects

TO APPLY, please email OPTIM@cinj.rutgers.edu including an updated resume, mention of research interest, and a biosketch (if available/not required). Students will be compensated during this summer experience.

APPLICATION DEADLINES: EARLY ACCEPTANCE must be received by January 19, 2024. Deadline for all applications MARCH 14, 2024. 

OPTIM Flyer 2024