STEMPrep-OHSU Internship Program

STEMPrep-OHSU 2023 students at activities

The non-profit Distance Learning Program Center (DLPC) and its Alliance partners believe that change in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) developmental initiatives is needed to diversify the next generations of STEM doctoral degree holders, by supporting the training of underrepresented minority (URM) populations, including students of African American, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans & Native Hawaiian descent. During the second half of the 20th century, we have failed to invest in developmental initiatives designed to produce a significant STEM workforce from an economically/educationally disadvantaged student pipeline, of which underrepresented minorities are the highest percentage. While URM groups make up 38% of the population, they earned only 18.6% of total undergraduate degrees, and only 16.9% of STEM degrees—further, only 8% of URM trainees graduate with a STEM doctoral degree. Unfortunately, these numbers are even more accented in the state of Oregon.

To address the critical need of expanding a diverse and representative workforce in STEM fields, the Departments of Cell, Developmental and Cancer, and Surgery at OHSU established a partnership with the Distance Learning Center (DLC) as one of seven universities to host and nurture students from the STEMPREP Project, whose mission is to foster sustained interest and engagement URM students in STEM-related activities, and ultimate success in STEM-related careers. The STEMPREP Project assembles a national cohort of 7th grade URM high-achieving students who have interest in STEM careers. The program nurtures students in basic science areas across a continuous ten-year pipeline, following a commonsense approach of find the national STEM talent early, nurturing scientific interest, and aiding in achieving a doctoral degree. This longitudinal developmental paradigm utilizes a multi-institutional mentorship approach and exposes participants to science through annual summer basic science internships at Alliance institutions in the U.S. and Canada, and provides a supplemental academic-year support “platform” through the precollege and college years. The STEMPREP Project strives to make a broader impact and profound change in the production of URM doctoral degree holders in STEM (

Generously funded by

  • AstraZeneca
  • Cartales Foundation
  • Brenden Colson Center for Pancreatic Care
  • Department of Surgery
  • Department Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
  • Division of Pediatrics
  • Knight Cancer Institute


Please contact:
Dr. Moses Williams
Executive Director and Founder

Kelley Stokes
Program Coordinator

OHSU participates in the STEMPREP Program as a hosting scientific institution and will host 20 11th-grade URM trainees for an 8-week basic science research internship from June 18, 2022 – August 12, 2022. Students will be matched with basic research laboratories to conduct a productive hypothesis-driven research project mentored by OHSU faculty, post-doctoral fellows and students. Students will engage in a weekly didactic, science-focused curriculum, ACT test prep, weekly career seminars, and weekend Oregon college campus-state landmark fieldtrips. Students will be housed at Portland State University and commute to OHSU via trolley.

STEMPrep-OHSU Longitudinal Graphic

This program offers many innovative aspects for the OHSU and Oregon community

  • This program has a strong track record and is established.  Further, Dr. Brody and Dr. Moses (the director of the DLPC) have worked together for several years and have established a strong program in Philadelphia at Jefferson University.
  • Students will come from all over the country, and in many instances have their first Oregon experiences during this program. Again, the long term objective here is to recruit STEM students to OHSU and our state. 
  • Students will come in being “trained” in the science and laboratory settings.  These students are integrated into this program in 7th grade and thus have been fostered and mentored for years prior to their arrival in Portland.
  • Because of the programs other connections with UPENN, UWASH, and Jefferson, these students from other institutions will learn about what the OHSU students are doing and will have an opportunity to engage with them.
  • This program will provide a unique opportunity for the students to understand an appropriate work-life balance, between being in cutting-edge research laboratories and seeing the vast, diverse beauty of the Pacific Northwest. 

To complement the cutting-edge basic science research, OHSU trainee curriculum includes

  • (a) RCR Course/Lab Safety Class. Directed workshop on how to generate testable hypotheses and experimental design. Journal review including novel cutting-edge technology, and use of model systems.
  • (b) Weekly Career Seminars. Friday lunch and learn, and career seminars to expose trainees to myriad career paths in science and medicine fun by OHSU faculty, residents, post-doctoral fellows, students. These sessions will include career path guidance for graduate and medical school and the MD/PhD program.
  • (c) Culminating Oral Research Presentations. OHSU STEMPREP trainees will participate in the summer internship research symposium to disseminate their scientific findings to the scientific community. Further, after trainees return home, they are required to submit an application to a Poster Session of the national scientific meeting, the March Minority Trainee Research Forum (MTRF).
  • (d) American College Testing (ACT) prep course.
  • (e) Scientific “buddies”. Pair each trainee with a graduate student or post-doc host.
  • (f) DEVELOPING. Saturday Field Trips. We are developing weekend day trip to explore sites of natural history and culture in Oregon and to visit Oregon college campuses. The purpose of these OHSU-funded activities is to highlight our state and provide opportunities for Oregon Universities to recruit and retain outstanding and highly talented STEMPREP trainees in Oregon for higher education and ultimately to OHSU for graduate school or medical school.

History of success

The innovation of the STEMPREP Project lies within its longitudinal research training paradigm at Alliance partnering institutions. By focusing on building research skills during the precollege summers, URM high achievers who would not normally receive this type of training are better prepared to enroll in full credit-bearing STEM courses at the start of college. Hence, STEMPREP students intending to major in STEM avoid falling into a remediation cycle upon entering college, which deters minorities from pursing majors in STEM. During college, the STEMPREP summer training and academic year “enrichment platform” prepares our trainees for entry into elite post-baccalaureate STEM educational programs. The 2012 External Evaluation Study of STEMPREP college graduating classes (1998 – 2011), commissioned by the United Health Foundation, found the STEMPREP Project to be one of the most successful training initiatives in U.S. history: 100% of our trainees attended college, 99% graduated from college, 92% completed the 10-year regimen (Retention) and 83% of our college seniors matriculated into post-baccalaureate educational programs in STEM and/or Medicine (Yield). The next External Evaluation is slated for fifteen years later, in 2026. The relevance of this new 21st century training paradigm is that it efficiently produces significant numbers of STEM terminal degree holders from a small national pool of URM high achievers who have participated in a longitudinal STEM training continuum.

About us

Sarah Andres, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology

Jonathan Brody, Ph.D.
Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine
Vice Chair, Research, Surgery, School of Medicine

Melissa Wong, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology

Program coordinator:
Kelley Stokes

STEMPrep-OHSU_Program structure

Shandee Dixon

John Brigande

Melissa Wong

Sudarshan Anand

Shawn Chavez

Jonathan Brody

Lisa Coussens

Allison Fryer

Sarah Andres

Rosalie Sears

Tim Nice

David Jacoby

Susan Shugerman

Luiz Bertasonni

Rachel Dresbeck

Cancer Biology faculty (alphabetical order)

Anupriya Agarwal, PhD, Associate Professor, SOM, Division of Oncologic Sciences. The Agarwal lab focuses on identifying signaling pathways required for leukemia progression, clonal evolution, and drug resistance. 

Jared Fischer, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics. The Fischer lab focuses on cell signaling pathways that regulate stem cell and cellular senescence. 

Jonathan Brody, PhD, Professor, Department of Surgery. The Brody lab focuses on mRNA stability and DNA repair’s impact on pancreatic tumorigenesis and treatment. 

Josh Walker, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine. The Walker lab focuses on T cell dysfunction in cancer. 

Joshua Saldivar, PhD, Assistant Professor, SOM, Division of Oncologic Sciences. The Saldivar lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms that coordinate DNA replication and transcription, and how deregulation of these two fundamental processes is linked to epigenetic reprogramming in cancer. 

Julia Maxson, PhD, Associate Professor, SOM, Division of Oncologic Sciences. The Maxson lab focuses on targetable mutations in CSF3R and acquisition of genomic defects that underlie leukemia. 

Katelyn Byrne, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. Dr. Byrne’s lab focuses on the pancreatic tumor microenvironment, with an emphasis on immune cell infiltrate and function in the tumor site, utilizing genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer and clinical samples to assess translational relevance. 

Lisa Coussens, PhD, Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. The Coussens lab focuses on immune cells and their mediators as critical regulators of cancer development. 

Megan Burger, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. The Burger lab focuses on investigating factors regulating the T cell response against lung cancer to inform the design of novel cancer immunotherapies. 

Megan Ruhland, PhD., Assistant Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. Dr. Ruhland’s lab focuses on understanding how antigen transit and thus antigen availability dictates the appropriateness of the immune response and the role of diverse antigen presenting cells in orchestrating and amplifying T cell responses in melanoma. 

Melissa Wong, PhD, Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. The Wong laboratory focuses on regulation of active and quiescent stem cell in homeostasis and in cancer, and macrophage cancer cell fusions in metastatic disease and as an early detection biomarker for disease. 

Owen McCarty, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. The McCarty lab focuses on hydrodynamic shear forces and chemical adhesive interactions underlying pathogenesis of inflammation and cancer. 

Rosalie Sears, PhD, Professor, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics. The Sears lab focuses on cellular signaling pathways controlling tumor cell phenotype and fate with special focus on regulation of the c-Myc oncoprotein. 

Sanjay Malhotra, PhD., Professor, Department of Oncologic Sciences. The Malhotra lab focuses on design of new molecules and exploration of their potential for biological investigations and therapeutic applications. 

Sarah Andres, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine. The Andres lab studies the role of RNA-binding proteins in regulating exosome cargo and delivery to cells in the context of development and cancer. 

Sudharshan Anand, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. The Anand laboratory focuses on non-coding RNAs impacting the tumor microenvironment in the context of stressors such as genotoxic, inflammatory and oxidative stress. 

Teresa Zimmers, PhD, Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. Dr. Zimmers’ lab focuses on novel, targetable mechanisms to slow/prevent/cure muscle and adipose wasting and dysmetabolism in cancer cachexia. 

Quantitative Oncology

Daniel Zuckerman, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Zuckerman’s research focuses on biophysical mechanisms and systems biology. 

Guanming Wu, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology. The Wu lab focuses on network-based analysis of cancers. 

Gurkan Yardimci, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Oncologic Sciences. Dr. Yardimci develops machine learning and statistical methods to better understand chromatin organization in cancerous and healthy cells. 

Kyle Ellrott, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Ellrott’s research focuses on developing computational systems for analyzing and integrating high-throughput omic data from diverse human cancers. 

Olga Nikolova, PhD, Assistant Professor, SOM, Division of Oncologic Sciences. The Nikolova lab focuses on graphical models for Big Data with applications to systems biology and personalized health, especially cancer. 

Shannon McWeeney, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine. Dr. McWeeney’s research focuses on statistical and computational methodologies for functional genomics. 

Summer Gibbs, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. The Gibbs lab focuses on developing novel fluorophores that facilitate phenotyping of neoplastic cells in tissue and blood, as well as for fluorescence guided tumor resection. 

Xubo Song, PhD, Professor, Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology. The Song lab focuses on innovative machine learning and computational algorithms to extract the rich information in biomedical data to enable researchers and physicians in biomedical discovery and precision medicine. 

Young Hwan Chang, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Chang’s research focuses on developing novel algorithms for image analysis and integration of large-scale heterogeneous data. 

Zheng Xia, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Xia’s research focuses on design and application of bioinformatics algorithms to elucidate global regulatory mechanisms in cancer. 

Translational Oncology

Adel Kardosh, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine. Dr. Kardosh's research focuses on basic, clinical and translational research of GI tumors with a focus on immune oncology. 

Alison Skalet, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Casey Eye Institute. Dr. Skalet’s research focuses on uveal melanoma, focusing upon early detection and vision-threatening complications as well as investigation of the basic processes driving metastasis. 

Andrea Stroud, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Stroud’s research focuses on the impact of bariatric surgery and obesity impact cancer development. 

Brett Sheppard, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Sheppard’s research focuses on improving outcomes for pancreatic cancer by earlier diagnosis and improved therapy, and the enhancement of outcomes in gastrointestinal and GI endocrine surgery. 

Charles Lopez MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine. Dr. Lopez’ research focuses on gastrointestinal cancers, and studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive tumor formation and response to treatment, with the aim of finding specific molecules that are targets for new cancer treatments. 

Flavio Rocha MD, Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Rocha’s research focuses on treatment of liver, pancreas, and biliary tumors. 

Stephen Roberts, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Roberts’ research focuses on the developmental biology and oncogenic transformation of neural crest cells into neuroblastoma using stem cell models with focus on recurrent chromosomal aberrations including segmental gains and MYCN amplification. 

Skye Mayo, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Mayo’s research focuses on treating patients with advanced cancers that are metastatic or arising in the liver. 

Tanaya Shree, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Oncologic Sciences. Dr. Shree’s research focuses on immune impairments in cancer patients and novel approaches to activate these altered immune networks for cancer therapy 

V. Liana Tsikitis MD, Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Tsikitis’ research focuses on malignant colorectal and anorectal diseases. 

Cancer Prevention and Control

Aaron Grossberg, MD,PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Medicine. Dr. Grossberg’s research focus is on the interaction between cancer and metabolism. His clinical practice focuses on stereotactic body radiation therapy and hypo fractionated radiation for treatment of early and advanced cancers. 

Claymore Kills First, PharmD, BCOP, Clinical Faculty Oncology Pharmacist, Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology. Dr. Kills First is working towards equitable care for Native American/Alaskan Native oncology patients while working alongside the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care with the Community Outreach, Research and Engagement program to understand and address barriers for tribal communities to participate in pancreatic cancer screening, treatment and clinical trials. 

Gregory Cote, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine. Dr. Cote’s research focuses on outcomes research pertaining to pancreatobiliary endoscopy. 

Jackie Shannon, PhD, Professor, OHSU School of Public Health. Dr. Shannon’s research focuses on unveiling the nutritional factors that prevent the development and progression of breast and prostate cancer; community education to reduce risk factors for cancer; and community-engaged research methods. 

Pepper Schedin, PhD, Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. Dr. Schedin’s research focuses on developing chemoprevention strategies for breast cancer that target specific windows of development, including adolescent mammary gland development, the estrous cycle, pregnancy, lactation and involution cycles and menopause. 

Sancy Leachman, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Dermatology. Dr. Leachman’s research focuses on the role of genetic predisposition and differential gene expression in the development of melanoma and using this knowledge to inform screening programs. 

OHSU Departments or Programs

Allison Fryer, EdD, Professor, SOM, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Fryer is an expert in lung physiology and pharmacology and has identified several major mechanisms that contribute to the airway hyperreactivity that is characteristic of asthma 

David Jacoby, MD, Professor, SOM, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Jacoby’s research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1990, focusing on the mechanisms of virus-induced asthma and the interaction of eosinophils, a disease-fighting white blood cell, with airway nerves.  

Fikadu Tafesse, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Tafesse Lab focuses on identifying and characterizing the host factors that are used by pathogens to secure invasion, persistence and propagation. 

Grace Gill, PhD, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology. Dr. Gill’s research into the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation includes seminal work on the modularity and function of eukaryotic activation domains as well as studies establishing that SUMO-modification of transcription factors promotes association with co-repressors that alter the epigenetic landscape.  

Henry Lin, MD, Associate Professor SOM, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology. Dr. Lin is a pediatric gastroenterologist who is board certified in pediatric gastroenterology and has advanced training in pediatric transplant hepatology, and is currently the only board certified hepatologist. 

Isabella Rauch, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. The Rauch lab focuses on epithelial responses to pathogen infection. Their research uses genetic mouse models of in vivo infection as well as stem cell derived organoids as primary epithelial cell in vitro models. 

John Brigande, PhD, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology. The Brigande Lab researches retroviral lineage analysis, fate map, fetal gene transfer, fetal pharmacotherapy, gene therapy for congenital deafness. 

Ken Azarow, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery. Dr. Azarow is a pediatric surgeon and the Mackenzie Professor and Chair of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at OHSU. He joined the Doernbecher surgical team in 2013 and entire professional career has been dedicated to training surgeons so that they can take care of the next generation of children. 

Rachel Dresbeck, PhD, OHSU Research Development. Dr. Dresbeck established OHSU’s Research Development office in 2004, which focuses on finding funding, proposal development, running funding programs, providing strategic advice for investment and programming and serving as a resource for institutional positioning.  

Shandee Dixon, PhD, Knight Cancer Institute, Assistant Director of Cancer Research Career Enhancement. Once a scientist at the OHSU Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR), Dr. Dixon founded the CEDAR Health Inequities Committee focused on building awareness around the impact systemic health inequities have on early detection and treatment of cancers. 

Shawn Chavez, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics. Dr. Chavez’s research interests focus on the use of real-time imaging and low-input next-generation sequencing to investigate the genetic, epigenetic, and chromosomal requirements of early embryogenesis and placentation in non-human primates and other mammals.  

Susan Shugerman, EdD, Office of Science Education Opportunities. Dr. Shugerman works STEM Education in K-12, Higher Education and Nonprofit Organizations with a focus on Equity and Inclusion and Program Development, Implementation, Evaluation, and Improvement.  

Tim Nice, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. The Nice Lab is interested in identifying virus and host genes that determine the outcome of intestinal infection and pathology such as cancer. 

Shandee Dixon

Derick Du Vivier

Claymore Kills First

Henry Lin

Anna Ritz

Jackie Shannon

Susan Shugerman

V. Liana Tsikitis

Moses Williams

Daniel Zuckerman