Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Internship


The University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Health Disparities Research, in collaboration with the Masonic Cancer Center, invites eligible undergraduate students to submit an application for the 12th Annual Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Internship*. This program is a paid, full-time internship designed to give undergraduate students from Minnesota's racial/ethnic minority and underrepresented communities experience conducting cancer and/or health disparities research. Students interested in exploring or pursuing research or clinical career in a health professional field are encouraged to apply. 

Questions? Contact Mikow Hang at or Abdifatah Ahmed at

*The internship program is slated to be in person and will be adjusted accordingly to either hybrid or virtual programming to abide by the current COVID-19 recommendations in spring 2021.

Note: The Health Disparities and Cancer Research Summer Internship share its application with the CTSI Pathways to Research Program (PReP) Program.  Students may be considered for one or both of the programs by selecting their program choice(s) in the application.

2021 Cancer Disparities Virtual Poster Session

You are invited to join us for the 2021 M-ASCEND Cancer Disparities Summer Internship Virtual Poster Session. Come and learn about the summer interns and their research projects.

Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2021 and Thursday, August 5, 2021

Time: 9:00 am - 11:30 am


Poster Abstracts

Presentation Schedule

*Poster session will be recorded; recordings will be uploaded on this website by 8/9/2021.

Program Description

The Health Disparities & Cancer Research Summer Internship has 10 internship positions available for summer 2021.

  • Program dates: June 14, 2021 - August 6, 2021.*
  • This is a paid full-time (40 hours per week) internship.
  • Accepted interns will be matched with an academic research mentor.

During the program, participants will:

  • Learn how health disparities and cancer are addressed through community-engaged research
  • Engage in research related to faculty mentor’s area of investigation in basic biomedical, behavioral, translational, clinical, and/or community-based research
  • Attend weekly seminars and workshops on topics such as interdisciplinary research, applying for medical or professional schools, and the root causes of health disparities and cancer
  • Shadow a clinician for up to 28 hours during the internship**
  • Participate in a community-service learning project**
  • Present a poster to academic members and community partners in August

*Program dates are subject to change.
**Programming may be adjusted to accommodated COVID-19 guidance and UMN recommendations. This includes a reduction of hours, suspending the clinical observations and community service-learning project, and adding other components not listed here.

Program Expectations

Applicants accepted into the program must agree to the following:

  • Commit to work full-time (40 hours per week) during normal office hours (8:00am-5:00pm) for the duration of the nine-week program (Some evening and/or weekend hours may be required)
  • Engage in the mentor/mentee matching process
  • Attend the weekly seminar series and other required activities
  • Participate in the community-service learning project
  • Create and present a poster at the year-end symposium at the close of the program
  • Arrange accommodations, including transportation, parking, and lodging, if applicable
  • Provide legal documentation establishing eligibility to work in the United States
  • Be current on immunizations
  • Access to a laptop

*List is not exhaustive and may change. Expectations will be detailed in the acceptance letter.


  • December 2020: Applications open
  • February 1, 2021: Applications due
  • March 2021: Interviews
  • April 2021: Notification of award
  • April 2021: Mentor/Mentee Matching
  • June – August 2021: Internship Program
  • August 2021: Poster Session

*Timeline is subject to change without notice.


In order to participate in the internship program, applicants must be:

  • An incoming sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate student. Students graduating in May 2021 are not eligible.
  • Enrolled in a two or four-year college/university in Minnesota OR be a Minnesota resident attending a two or four-year accredited college/university within the United States.
  • International students are allowed to apply; accepted applicants must be able to provide appropriate paperwork indicating they are eligible to work in the United States. 
  • Interested in pursuing a research career or a health science profession.
  • Self-identify as belonging to a historically marginalized community and/or community most impacted by health disparities. Communities include, but is not limited to, racial/ethnic minorities, first-generation college student, LGBTQ, rural and/or disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, etc..


We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 internship program. Please check back in December 2021 for details about the 2022 internship program.

Application deadline is February 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm. It has two parts and both need to be completed in order to be considered for the program. Description of the application sections is below.

Part 1: Candidate Application

  • Applicant information
  • Select an internship program
    • This is a shared application process between the Cancer Disparities Summer Research Internship Program and the CTSI Pathways to Research (PReP) Summer Research Program.
    • You may have your application considered for one or both programs; if both, you will need to rank the program.
  • Demographic Information
  • Personal Essay
    • Describe your academic and career goals, interest in human health research, how you will benefit from this program, what you want to learn or accomplish from this program, any research experience you have had, if applicable, and any personal challenges you have faced that have influenced your life and/or academic career.
    • 2-page limit; 12 pt font; single-spaced
  • Short Essay
    • Take a moment to think about a specific, diverse or underserved community within Minnesota and how it is impacted by health disparities. In your essay, describe one or two of the most critical health issues facing this Minnesota community. Give examples of how you, in your intended profession, i.e. nurse, researcher, medical doctor, community health worker, etc., would serve in this area of need.
    • 500 word limit
  • Upload your resume or curriculum vitae
    • Include paid and unpaid* work experiences, community service, volunteer activities, awards/achievements, and clubs/organizations
    • *Ex: working in the family business; taking care of siblings/elderly adult, etc...
  • Upload your transcript(s)
    • Unofficial copies are acceptable
    • If you are a transfer student, include transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

Part 2: Letters of Recommendation

  • Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation
  • Each letter writer must complete a short survey and upload a recommendation letter that includes the institutional/organization letterhead
  • Identify your letter writers and send them the LoR link to access the survey and to upload their letter
  • Deadline is February 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm -- no late letters will be accepted

Review Criteria

The review committee will score applications based on the following criteria:

  • Academic Merit
  • Personal Essay
  • Short Essay
  • Motivation to work in health or research professions
  • Extracurricular Activities, including experience volunteering with diverse and underserved populations
  • Evidence of resiliency
  • Letters of recommendation