Training & Education

Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC)

The University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center supports multidisciplinary education and training in the context of CU Cancer Center’s research and clinical mission through the development of novel programs, active participation in the training of mentees across a broad spectrum of educational stages including middle and high school students, undergraduates, post-baccalaureates, graduate students, medical students, residents, and fellows. We also provide career development activities for junior faculty (referred to as mentored members) and cancer-focused educational and training activities for cancer center members. 

We place a major emphasis on the integration of training and education activities with cutting-edge basic, population, and clinical cancer research undertakings. Furthermore, in close collaboration with the CU Cancer Center Community Engagement and Outreach Office, we put a unique focus on including and recruiting underrepresented populations to participate in education and training activities.

Mission, Vision, & Goals


Serve and improve the care of cancer patients by fostering the careers of cancer care providers, new investigators, and aspiring young scientists in cancer research, population science, and clinical care.


Educating and training the next generation of innovative leaders in translational, basic, clinical, and population science-related cancer research will conquer cancer.

Our Goals

Training & Education Opportunities

CRTEC is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists. Click below to find out more about our K-12 programming that provides exposure and real-world experiences for young students in the cancer biology field.

CRTEC’s education and training initiatives for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students engage scientific curiosity in the next generation by providing opportunities for students to explore future careers in cancer research while fueling the biomedical research pipeline. Click below to find out more about our undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programming.

CRTEC supports the education and training of graduate, medical, and postdoctoral students through the organization and facilitation of the Cancer Symposium Seminars and Colloquiums, dissemination of relevant training and grant opportunities, assisting with cancer-relevant training grants, and providing funding for training courses and innovation grants. Click below to learn more about the programming for graduate, medical, and post-doctoral students.

CRTEC supports Junior Faculty, referred to as Mentored Members, by organizing and facilitating the Cancer Symposium Seminars and Colloquiums, providing quarterly meetings and workshops, assisting with grant writing, and dissemination of grant and training opportunities. Click below to learn more about programming for mentored members.

The Cancer Center hosts a symposium series each week during the fall and spring semesters that is organized and facilitated by CRTEC. In these symposiums, our Cancer Center members and students, learn about current research occurring in the field of Cancer Biology. Scientists from the CU Cancer Center in addition to distinguished researchers brought in from across the nation present their research at the seminars.

These CME-accredited seminars are held on Tuesdays from 12:00 - 1:00 pm MST in either a virtual or hybrid format as a live web conference with a Q&A session during the last 15 minutes. When COVID restrictions allow, pizza lunch is provided for those attending in person.

For the schedule of the upcoming Cancer Symposium Seminars:

Can’t attend a symposium session you are interested in? Most of the symposium sessions are recorded (with permission of the speaker) and posted on the Cancer Center Symposium Series YouTube Channel

Training & Education Latest News

UCCC Receives ACS Diversity in Cancer Research Training Grant

We are excited to share that our American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research (ACS DICR) grant was awarded! The ASCENT program (Advancement of Scholars in Cancer Education aNd Training) will offer a multi-dimensional mentoring and cancer research training experience to inspire and prepare post-baccalaureate students from historically underrepresented groups to enroll and succeed in a top-tier PhD or MD-PhD program and commit to cancer research careers. This funding will support four postbaccalaureate students in a two-year mentored research experience.

Learn more about the ASCENT program

Climbing the mountain together (ASCENT program)

Cancer Innovation Pilot Grant Awardees for 2023

The Cancer Innovation Pilot Grants provide research funding to support the career development of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees and early-career faculty. These grants are evaluated via a competitive peer-review process in the NIH style.

This year we had a record number of applications and of very high quality. Please join us in congratulating the 2023-2024 Cancer Innovation Pilot Grant Awardees (pictured below).

Learn more about the Innovation Pilot Grant Program

Gabriella Albert

Gabriella Albert, PhD

Candidate, Immunology

Mentor: Eduardo Davila, PhD

Project: Investigating the role of transcriptional regulators of "stemness" on CD8 T cell exhaustion to improve the efficacy and durability of immunotherapies for cancer

Brittany Gomez

Brittany Gomez

Pre-Doctoral Student, Immunology

Co-Mentors: Linda van Dyk, PhD and Eric Clambey, PhD

Project: Investigating the properties and susceptibility of virus-associated lymphomas

Bridget Hoag

Bridget Hoag

Pre-doctoral Student, Cancer Biology

Mentor: James DeGregori, PhD

Project: Exploring Aging Dependent Adaptations of Splicing Factor Mutations Using Base Editing

Catherine Danis

Catherine Danis, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Mentor: M Eric Kohler, PhD

Project: Evaluating the impact of restoring LAT signaling on CAR T cell metabolism

Ilango Balakrishnan

Ilango Balakrishnan, PhD

Associate Research Professor

Project: Development of novel Dual recombinant CD99/B7-H3 immunotoxins against DIPG, a fatal brain tumor in children

PIKE-PREP Scholars Present at Fall Science Conferences

PIKE-PREP Scholars Kat Arce, Megan Hupka, and Zoe Drigot presented their research at the 22nd Annual Colorado Immunology & Microbiology Conference in Steamboat Springs that was held August 30th – September 1st, 2023. Jordan Swartz headed off to the 2023 International Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer (ILC) Symposium that took place in Pittsburgh, PA from September 28th – 30, 2023. At the conferences the scholars were able to share their science and network with other trainees and scientists with similar research interests. Congratulations on a job well done!

  • Kat Arce (pictured left) presented her research titled, “Ligand accessibility may limit Mertk dependent T cell suppression in the islets during Type 1 Diabetes”
  • Megan Hupka (pictured right) presented her research titled, “Contribution of a DNA Methyltransferase to Enterococcal Vaginal Colonization”
  • Zoe Drigot presented her research titled, “The differential impact of airway Prevotella species on neutrophil activation and Streptococcus pneumoniae infection”
  • Jordan Swartz presented her research titled, “Efficacy of PARP inhibitor Talazoparib on ER+ ILC breast cancer models”

Learn more about the PIKE-PREP Scholars

Cancer Center Research Rangers

Fall 2023 Learn About Cancer Day

Fall 2023 Learn About Cancer Day

On September 28, 2023, we hosted 50 local high school students to help them learn more about cancer research and cancer-related careers. Following an introduction to cancer presentation by John Tentler, PhD, students participated in a simulated cancer-focused clinical trial designed and facilitated by Meredith Tennis, PhD, toured multiple cancer-research laboratories as well as shared resources facilities, and learned about cancer-related careers and career paths during a lunchtime student trainee panel visit. It was a day filled with educational opportunities for students to connect their science understanding to relevant, cutting-edge science occurring right here at the CU Cancer Center.

The next Learn About Cancer Day will be this spring, April 5, 2024. Learn more

Cancer Center Student Symposium (C2S2)

Dr. Adela Cota-Gomez will kick off the 2nd Annual Cancer Center Student Symposium (C2S2) on October 12th, 2023. This year’s monthly presentations will include presentations from pre- and post-doctoral trainees from the various cancer center research programs. Last year’s C2S2 was a huge success with over X # of high school students attending throughout the year. This year, students who attend 6 of the 7 sessions will earn a certificate of completion. The CRTEC Office created C2S2 to connect the CU - Cancer Center with Colorado high school students and teachers through a monthly virtual symposium on cancer-focused topics.

Learn more / Register

Cancer Center Student Symposium (C2S2)

Introducing the 2023-2024 PIKE-PREP Scholars

The 2023-2024 cohort of PIKE-PREP Scholars have arrived on campus!

Preparation in Interdisciplinary Knowledge to Excel - Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PIKE-PREP) is a mentoring and training program directed by Dr. Eduardo Davila and Dr. Carlos Catalano and administered by Dr. Adela Cota-Gomez and Shawndra Fordham, which helps underrepresented post-baccalaureates to gain research experience and other needed training to gain admission into top-tier PhD or MD/PhD programs.

This year's Scholars have started the year off strong with an informative and fun orientation day, during which we got to know this wonderful and talented group of people. The scholars were also introduced to their research lab teams and started to get familiar with their research projects, where an abundance of their time and effort will be focused on.

This year's PIKE-PREP Scholars are Anne Williams mentored by Dr. Gidon Felsen, Brooke Linden mentored by Dr. Eduardo Davila, Daniela Gonzalez-Rivera mentored by Dr. Michael Harris-Love, Jordan Swartz mentored by Dr. Matt Sikora, Kat Arce mentored by Dr. Rachel Friedman, Megan Hupka mentored by Dr. Kelly Doran, Olivia Ovard mentored by Dr. Diego Restrepo, Rebecca Han mentored by Dr. Manisha Patel, and Zoe Drigot mentored by Dr. Sarah Clark.

Alongside their research projects, the Scholars will also participate in career and professional workshops on a variety of topics that will help them advance their career training and will present at either the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) conference or the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM Conference. We are excited and honored to be able to support them on their professional journeys this year.

PIKE-PREP Scholars 2023-2024

(Pictured: Top row left to right — Daniela Gonzalez Rivera, Kat Arce, Rebecca Han, Brooke Linden, and Zoe Drigot. Bottom row left to right — Megan Hupka, Anne Williams, Jordan Swartz, and Olivia Ovard)

OSI Welcomes 2023 Interns

The CU Oncology Summer Internship (OSI) program was happy to welcome Ferdos Abdulkader and Mustafa Saeed into the 2023 program. Mentored by Dr John Tentler and Dr. Tejas Patil, the Interns worked hard and persevered; at the end of the internship, they were able to present their research projects.

Ferdos Abdulkader

Project: Immunotherapy outcomes in KRAS NSCLC who are never smokers


Mustafa Saeed

Project: Incidence and outcomes of patients with large-cell neuroendocrine or sarcomatoid lung carcinoma with driver oncogenes


CRTEC Leadership

Eduardo Davila, PhD, (PREP Co-Director)

Eduardo Davila, PhD

Program Co-Director

Adela Cota-Gomez, PhD

Adela Cota-Gomez, PhD

Assistant Director for Education Administration

Jill Penafiel

Jill Penafiel

Education and Program Manager

Shawndra Fordham, MEd

Shawndra Fordham, MEd

Education and Outreach
Program Developer

Annette Hall

Annette L. Hall

Administrative Assistant II

Lexi Bauer

Lexi Bauer

Student Assistant

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