Cancer health disparities persist among racial/ethnic minorities and the poor, who historically have been medically underserved. The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has developed a summer fellowship program that employs a unique approach to address this chronic problem. The Cancer in the Under-Privileged, Indigent or Disadvantaged (CUPID) program is a highly selective 7 week summer fellowship for students who have completed their first year of medical school. Drawn from an applicant pool of over 250 students from 71 US medical schools (2010 data), the 10-11 CUPID fellows accepted each year are selected based on their demonstration of a sustained commitment to serving underserved populations and addressing general health disparities at the level of the individual health care practitioner. Successful CUPID applicants are mature, goal-oriented and dedicated to service. Accepted CUPID fellows have taken an interest in health care disparities and, at an early stage of their careers, have dedicated significant time and energy into addressing these disparities. The strategy is to actively engage these highly motivated students from diverse backgrounds, to instill a sense of excitement about oncology, and to encourage them to consider postgraduate training in medical oncology or one of the oncological subspecialties. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other program in the U.S. like CUPID. The CUPID program provides a structured research experience in oncology laboratories of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. This laboratory work is accompanied by daily didactic presentations by our diverse faculty that are designed to provide an engaging overview of the molecular basis of cancer, the major areas of modern cancer research, challenges in clinical oncology, and academic approaches to alleviating cancer health disparities. In addition, students are introduced to the efforts of the federal government and a historically black medical college to address cancer health disparities via day programs conducted by partners at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda and Howard University. The desired outcome is for CUPID fellows to eventually alleviate cancer health disparities as practicing physicians, serving the underprivileged, indigent and/or disadvantaged. By bringing a diverse group of highly motivated students together for an intensive oncology experience early in their training, we expect to instill an enthusiasm for oncology in a group of future caregivers who are most likely to serve the underserved.

Citation Information: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010;19(10 Suppl):B38.