The mission of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Advancement of Scholars in Cancer Education aNd Training Program is to 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.
To achieve this mission, ASCENT program students will:
An important aim of the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC) is to diversify the cancer research workforce by increasing trainees from historically underrepresented (HUR) groups in cancer research. Despite the growing diversity within the US population, there is an acutely low percentage of cancer-focused PhD researchers that are either Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, have disabilities, or are from a disadvantaged background. One important goal of ASCENT is to address the challenges that impact HUR scholars and support them in their pursuit of earning a PhD in a cancer-focused research program.
ASCENT is supported by an American Cancer Society (ACS) Diversity in Cancer Research (DICR) grant and administered by the Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC) at the CU Cancer Center. The program also receives support from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Cancer Center and the Divisions of Hematology and Medical Oncology of the Department of Medicine.
To watch a recording of our information session on ASCENT and other Post-Baccalaureate Research Programs here at CU Anschutz, click the button below.
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ASCENT is a two-year program designed to prepare students for admission to cancer-focused PhD programs and success in a top tier graduate school.
In this mentored research and training program, students from historically underrepresented groups interested in pursuing a cancer-related PhD or MD-PhD degree will participate in ASCENT experiences and activities over two years.
This program aims to reach students from historically underrepresented groups which include American Indians and Alaska Natives, African Americans, Latinos/Hispanic and Pacific Islanders, individuals with disabilities, and/or individuals from a disadvantaged background that are pursuing a PhD or MD-PhD in a cancer-related field.
This program is not for students interested in applying to MD programs without a PhD component or for students who are only exploring the idea of a future career in scientific research. If you are interested in pursuing an MD degree, please apply to the B2MR program instead which is a post-baccalaureate program for future MD or MD-PhD students.
ASCENT is a two-year program beginning in June, 2024 and ending in June, 2026.
ASCENT Fellows will have access to a wide range of cutting-edge cancer-research opportunities in an environment that has basic, translational, and clinical research with investigators in four cancer-focused areas:
|Name, Degree, Title
|Diana Cittelly, PhD
|Department of Pathology, University of Colorado, School of Medicine
Mechanisms that allow breast cancer cells to metastasize to the brain, with long-term goal of identifying alternative treatment options for patients with this -often terminal- diagnosis
|Linda Cook, PhD
|Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health
Female reproductive cancers (ovarian, breast, and endometrial), and extensive experience directing large population-based studies with de novo data collection and biologic specimen collection
|Stacey Fischer, MD
|Department of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado, School of Medicine
Ethnically diverse and vulnerable populations in aging and palliative care
|Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD
|Department of Medical Oncology, University of Colorado, School of Medicine
Bridges lab and clinical research by developing direct patient xenograft models of head and neck and other cancers to generate better cancer models
|Craig Jordan, PhD
|Department of Hematology, University of Colorado, School of Medicine
Molecular biology of hematopoietic stem cells
|Michael Verneris, MD
|Department of Pediatric Hematology, University of Colorado, School of Medicine
Leukemia and using the immune system to treat cancer, whether that be through bone marrow or cellular therapy
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is the largest academic medical center in the Rocky Mountain region. As one of the only integrated health science campuses in the country, our campus brings together research facilities, hospitals, biotech/industry organizations, and clinics to transform healthcare.
There are five health professional schools at the Anschutz Medical Campus:
The Biomedical Science PhD Programs specialize in conducting basic and translational research that can bridge the research and clinical worlds. Through this graduate program, students can study cancer biology, cell biology, stem cells, and development, computational bioscience, human medical genetics and genomics, immunology, integrated physiology, microbiology, molecular biology, neuroscience, rehabilitation science, or structural biology and biochemistry.
The Medical Scientist Training Program provides rigorous training for students interested in a career in clinical medicine and basic science research. In this program, students will gain training to excel as clinician-scientists.
At the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD Programs breakthrough research and groundbreaking discoveries happen every day. The PhD programs include specializations in pharmaceutical sciences, clinical translational science, pharmaceutical outcomes research, and molecular toxicology.
The Colorado School of Public Health takes a trailblazing approach to the science and art of public health by applying a blend of research and practice to the real world to improve health. In this program, students can earn a PhD or a Doctor of Public Health in Community & Behavioral Health, Environmental & Occupational Health, or Epidemiology.
The PhD in Nursing Program is designed to prepare nurse scholars to advance the art, science, and practice of nursing. In this program, students will focus on health care systems, caring science, or bio-behavioral science-based research.
Although the School of Dental Medicine does not offer a PhD in Craniofacial Biology, graduate students have the opportunity to conduct oral health research by enrolling in the graduate training programs with the biomedical science graduate program and electing to work with the School of Dental Medicine research faculty who are members of these training programs.
ASCENT is intended for baccalaureate graduates who have a committed desire to pursue a PhD or MD-PhD in cancer-related research. This program is not intended for students who have interests outside of a cancer focused area or have not yet committed to a future career in research. It is also not for students pursuing an MD program.
Before applying, ensure that you meet the following criteria. Applicants must:
Note: While there is no minimum GPA requirement for admission to this program, the applicant’s cumulative and science GPA as well as the number and type of science-related courses completed will serve as an indicator of readiness for graduate-level work and prior research experience will be viewed favorably.
We encourage all interested applicants to apply. If you have questions about your eligibility, please reach out to us to discuss this further (ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu).
Once your application has been submitted it will be reviewed along with all supplemental materials in their entirety. We encourage early applications as we will do rolling reviews and admissions prior to the final candidate review which will occur after the March 15th application due date. An application will be considered complete once the application is turned in and both of the primary letters of recommendation have been submitted.
The selection committee will consider your eligibility criteria, coursework, grades, research experiences, answers on the application, statement of purpose/intent, and letters of recommendation. We are looking to bring in scholars that have demonstrated a clear passion for cancer-focused science and scientific research and who intend to enroll in a cancer-related PhD or MD-PhD program immediately following ASCENT. We also want to understand why you are interested in ASCENT and what you need to develop a competitive graduate program application as well as how the program will benefit you moving forward into a PhD or MD-PhD program.
We will review applications that are completed on a rolling basis until February 16, 2024 (must have both primary letters of recommendation submitted to be reviewed).
You will be notified if you receive early admission into the program. All other applications will be rolled into the final review occurring after the March 15, 2024 due date.
The application window for ASCENT is open between November 1st - March 15th. At this time, the application will be live. Click the Apply Now tab on this website and you will be taken to the application.
No. Each of the post-baccalaureate training programs is very different from one another and you should read about each program in depth before deciding which program to apply to. Identify the program that best suits your interests and needs and apply to that one specifically. Some guidelines to help you make your decision between the three programs:
Note: If you are a student who is interested in becoming an MD but not interested in research, you are not a fit for any of the post-baccalaureate programs we offer.
Yes, you will be able to start the application and return to it to complete it at a later time. You will be prompted to write down the code that is given to you at this time and enter your email to receive the link to return to your incomplete application. As you will only be allowed to create one application, it is important you save both of these or you will not be able to return to your application to complete it. Your application won’t be submitted to the ASCENT team and will not be considered “Complete” until you click finish and submit.
The final deadline for the application and all application materials is March 15, 2023 at 11:59 pm MDT .
Your application will be reviewed (following the March 15th deadline) as long as at least two of your letters of recommendation have been turned in even if both of those letters are not your primary two letters. Note that missing one or both of your primary letters could affect the committee’s consideration of you as a candidate.
Email ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu with questions or concerns you have regarding your letters of recommendation.
All applicants will be notified of the results between April 15th and May 1st.
Your letters of recommendation should be written by people who are able to attest to your personal, academic, and research skills and interests. A letter of recommendation from a research mentor is ideal if you have had research experience. Faculty members who have worked with you in laboratory-based courses and who know you and your research interests would be other good sources for letters of recommendation. All letters of recommendation should address your commitment to pursuing a PhD or MD-PhD degree and your future career plans and goals.
First, double check that you entered their email into the application correctly. Next, ask your recommenders to search their inbox, spam, and trash for ASCENT or REDCap. Our recommendation requests can easily end up in spam or be accidentally deleted. If they still do not have the recommendation request, reach out to us at ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu and we can regenerate the email request to your recommender.
Potential mentors are listed on the website for your information. In the application you will have the opportunity to note any potential mentors you are interested in working with, however, ultimately mentor placement will be done by
the ASCENT leadership team. We will strive to place you with the best mentor based on your research interests. Scholars should not contact mentors and try to arrange their own lab placement. That is the job of the ASCENT leadership
If you have a specific faculty member in mind that you would like to work with as an ASCENT scholar that is not listed as a vetted and trained mentor with the program, we are happy to reach out to them to see if they are interested in serving as an ASCENT mentor and working with you as a scholar. You will have the option to provide us with their name in the ASCENT application.
Yes, your baccalaureate degree must be from a STEM field. Having a degree in a STEM field from an accredited institution allows you to demonstrate that you have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to pursue admission to a top-tier cancer research graduate program. Students applying to ASCENT should have completed rigorous coursework in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences in addition to mathematics. If you have specific questions about your eligibility based on your degree or coursework, please email ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu .
In order to be eligible to participate in ASCENT, you must have completed your baccalaureate degree within three years or less of the program start date.
Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations is not included in the 3-year eligibility limit, nor is national service (e.g., Peace Corps, or service in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserves).
Yes, as long as the last baccalaureate degree you earned was no more than 36 months from the start date of ASCENT, and it was in a STEM field you are eligible to apply.
Yes, you are still eligible to apply to ASCENT even if you have earned a Master’s degree. The eligibility requirement is that you may not be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at the same time as you are participating in ASCENT AND that you earned your baccalaureate degree within 36 months of the start of ASCENT.
Yes, you should still apply. The goal of ASCENT is to support our scholars in addressing areas they may have deficiencies in that would impact their ability to be accepted into competitive graduate programs. You will have the opportunity to retake undergraduate courses or take graduate-level courses with support from the ASCENT mentors and team during your time in the program.
No, ASCENT is not an exploration program. ASCENT is for scholars who have already decided to pursue a future career in research and who need more support, development, and training in order to have a competitive application to graduate school.
Yes. You do not have to have prior research experience to be accepted into ASCENT. This may be the area where you have a gap that ASCENT can address in your graduate program application. You should, however, already have experiences that have led you to know that a future career in cancer research is your desired career path and be able to articulate that in your ASCENT application.
The selection committee will consider your eligibility criteria, coursework, grades, research experiences, answers on the application, statement of purpose/intent, and letters of recommendation. We are looking to bring in scholars that have demonstrated a clear passion for cancer-related science and scientific research and who intend to enroll in a cancer-related PhD or MD-PhD program immediately following ASCENT. We also want to understand why you are interested in ASCENT and what you need to develop a competitive graduate program application as well as how the program will benefit you moving forward into a PhD or MD-PhD program.
We anticipate that we will be able to maintain all of the planned programming for our scholars in the upcoming cohort. While we recognize that the delivery method of the programming could be modified for safety, our scholars should be able to engage in research on campus provided that all state and University COVID-19 guidelines are followed such as masking and social distancing.
At this time, we are unable to accommodate lab and site visits; however, applicants are encouraged to review the information on the ASCENT website, reach out to the ASCENT program team with any questions at ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu, visit the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus website, and visit the Biomedical Science Graduate Program website.
There are other preparatory programs at universities across the country. You could research to find other programs that might be a better fit for you. Alternatively, interested students could consider obtaining a job in a research
laboratory such as a research assistant, research coordinator, or laboratory technician. These positions may also offer tuition remission or reimbursement for employees to take graduate courses while working. These experiences could also help
you prepare for graduate school and enable you to further develop the skills and experience you need to be accepted to a graduate program. To find listings for positions at CU go to the
CU Careers Website.
If you are interested in receiving research mentoring, check out the National Research Mentoring Network, which connects students with potential mentors across different disciplines.
Do you have other questions? Reach out to the ASCENT team at ASCENT@cuanschutz.edu.
Before beginning your application, please have the following information ready and completed:
Once you begin your application you will have the option to save your work, resume at a later time, and review your application before submitting it.
Thank you to our generous sponsors for their support with the next generation of diverse cancer research scientists!
ASCENT is supported by an American Cancer Society (ACS) Diversity in Cancer Research (DICR) grant and administered by the Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC) at the CU Cancer Center. The program also receives support from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Cancer Center, Chancellor’s Office, Division of Hematology, and Division of Medical Oncology.