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Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program

Applications for 2024 are now closed


The Pediatric Oncology Education program at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is funded by the National Institutes of Health / National Cancer Institute. The POE program offers a unique opportunity for students preparing for careers in the biomedical sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, or public health to gain biomedical and oncology research experience. The POE program provides a short-term training experience (summer internship) in either laboratory research or clinical research.

A primary goal of the POE program is to encourage students to pursue a career in cancer research. Thus, we are particularly interested in highly qualified students with a serious career interest in cancer research, either as a clinical scientist or laboratory-based research scientist. The St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers PhD degrees, with training in cutting-edge scientific fields complemented by unique mentoring in the St. Jude clinical experience. Highly motivated POE students will have the opportunity to be considered for admission to the St. Jude Graduate School upon completion of their undergraduate degree.

Students participating in the Pediatric Oncology Education program will receive training in a superb academic environment created by the interaction of committed basic scientists, research-oriented physicians, and postdoctoral fellows. Depending on their special interests, trainees will spend their rotations in a clinical research or a laboratory research setting. Trainees will be matched with a faculty mentor who shares their research interests and will participate in the mentor's ongoing research projects. Trainees attend a daily Lunch & Learn series designed specifically for them, as well as other clinical and basic research conferences. 

Fifty-seven US citizen students from 45 schools in 29 states and Puerto Rico will participate in our 2024 POE program. Their class average undergraduate GPA is 3.88 on a 4.0 scale. The POE 2024 class members include 44 undergraduates, 10 medical students, and three graduate students. Five are prior POE year class members returning for an additional POE appointment. Historically, 86% of POEs have continued on to obtain a doctoral degree.

  1. The minimum time requirement for our program is 10 weeks at St. Jude for those currently attending medical school and 11 weeks for all others. The student's daily schedule will depend on the research area in which they are working, but the student is expected to work full-time. Applicants for our 2024 program must be able start on either Monday May 6, Monday May 13, Monday May 20, or Tuesday May 28, 2024. If you could not start on one of these dates (May 6, May 13, May 20, or May 28, 2024), you are not eligible for our 2024 program and should not apply.

  2. Trainees MUST be a United States citizen, non-citizen national, or possess a visa permitting permanent residence in the United States. A student visa is not sufficient. Many POE students are highly qualified undergraduate preparing for careers in medicine or biomedical sciences. Others are attending medical, graduate, pharmacy, or nursing school. POE applicants must be full-time students. Applicants MUST have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.40/4.00 in math and science (biology, chemistry, physics) AND at least a 3.40 overall. Medical, pharmacy, and graduate students must also meet the undergraduate GPA requirements. Applicants must have research experience and be in at least their sophomore of college year when they apply. At least one letter of recommendation must be from a research mentor. Medical students must be attending a US medical school. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to these requirements. Proof of the COVID-19 vaccine currently is not required, but vaccination is strongly encouraged. POE program participants will comply with future St. Jude COVID-19 vaccination policies.

    Please note that the POE program is a PRE doctoral program. Those with a doctoral degree (e.g. MD, PhD, PharmD, etc.) are NOT eligible for the POE program and should NOT apply. A possible exception would be a doctorate holder who is a student in a second doctoral program (e.g. a PhD who is currently enrolled in medical school pursuing an MD). MDs who have completed residency training in Pediatrics may be eligible for our Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program. Qualified non-US physicians may be eligible to visit St Jude through St. Jude Global.

  3. All participants in our program will receive a $600/week subsistence allowance. Group housing close to our campus will be available at no cost for POE students coming from outside the Memphis metropolitan area to participate in the program. We do not provide paid family housing. Travel expenses are the participant’s responsibility.

  4. Trainees engaged in laboratory research work in one of the many interesting and important areas of St. Jude oncology research. Some examples of ongoing basic science projects are studies on hematopoietic growth factors and receptor signaling; cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, the relationship between gene mutations and drug resistance, and gene editing/genome engineering. All St. Jude patients are offered whole genome sequencing of their tumors compared with normal tissue. St. Jude is increasing its use of tumor mutation data for diagnosis and therapeutic decisions (precision medicine). Thus computational biology opportunities exist. Cutting edge research is being conducted in infectious, autoimmune, and cancer immunology, and gene editing/genome engineering. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacology research involves studies of both current and new drugs, their effects on childhood cancers, and racial differences in drug metabolism. Trainees gain valuable experience in basic molecular laboratory research techniques, including cloning, cell culture, sample preparation and performing assays. They may do computer research data processing and analysis under their mentor's guidance.

  5. Medical students will work in clinical research with physicians and staff in areas such as chart review, record screening and examination, data collection and entry. Medical students may, under faculty supervision, attend clinics and observe procedures. Trainees may perform computer research data processing and analysis under their mentor's guidance. Medical students or undergraduates with sufficient computer skills may work on radiological sciences projects such as MR image analysis or radiation therapy treatment planning. Nursing students will work on nursing research projects.

  6. At the end of appointment, all participants are required to make a PowerPoint presentation on their research project. They are also required to submit a written report on their research project in the style of a journal in which their mentor publishes.

  7. Applications for our 2024 program are closed. Applications for our 2025 program will open November 1, 2024. The deadline for receipt of applications and all credentials will be February 1, 2025. Students should submit their application without waiting for their recommenders to submit letters of recommendation. Applicants are encouraged to get all their credentials in by mid-late December, so that they can be considered for early placement. Those submitting their application after January 1 run a high risk of not having all their credentials submitted by the deadline.

  8. Applicants should visit our website to identify departments in which they would like to work. Our latest scientific report is available online under related topics. See the research button at the top for the list of Academic Departments & Divisions. Please note that clinical research matches are reserved for those currently attending medical school. The Pediatric Oncology Education Program application must be submitted online.

    Departments that may be requested: 

    • Anesthesiology (medical students only)
    • Biostatistics
    • Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (medical students only)
    • Cell & molecular biology
    • Chemical biology & therapeutics
    • Computational biology
    • Developmental neurobiology
    • Diagnostic imaging (medical students, physics, math, or engineering majors only)
    • Epidemiology and cancer control (medical or graduate students)
    • Global Pediatric Medicine
    • Hematology
    • Immunology
    • Infectious diseases
    • Nursing research (nursing students only)
    • Oncology (a few clinical positions for medical students and a few lab positions for others)
    • Pathology
    • Pharmaceutical sciences
    • Psychology (psychology majors only)
    • Radiation oncology (medical students, physics, math, or engineering majors only)
    • Structural biology
    • Surgery (medical students only)

Applications for 2024 are now closed