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Training for high school students

Image of Retchin Brothers High School studentsHigh school students trained at VCU, twin brothers Matthew (left) and Michael (right) Retchin, won best-of-category in computational biology and bioinformatics for their development of software that analyzed how certain gene fragments in liver cancer cells interact with proteins. Photo credit: Laura Buitrago/ Society for Science & the Public

VCU Massey Cancer Center research members play an active role in stimulating interest in cancer research in high school students. This effort is helped by the presence of several highly rated high schools in the Richmond region, including Godwin High School, which, through its Medical Sciences Program, requires students to get hands-on training in biomedical research and provides a steady pool of high school students interested in cancer research. The students perform small research projects over the summer break or during the school year, which they present in science fairs such as Metro Richmond Science Fair (MRSF) or Virginia Junior Academy of Sciences (VJAS) with a high level of success.

Learn more about the variety of summer research learning opportunities for high school students offered by Massey researchers through the VCU School of Medicine.

Community High School Engagement and Learning (CHiSEL) Opportunity

MCC's new mentoring program, Community High School Engagement and Learning (CHiSEL), opens the doors to MCC labs where interested biomedical students can work with our members on their own research data. Our Faculty are eager to help prepare future researchers by engaging in a small school project, developing strategies, techniques and results for the future. Application materials for the summer 2023 program will be made available spring 2022.

For further questions, please contact Kate Shaw at

Research and Mentoring (RAM) Opportunity

This new mentoring and experiential learning program is designed to serve high school students in the local community. The RAM opportunity is uniquely led by graduate student mentors across disciplines. Each graduate mentor will design a new or develop an existing research project for the mentee(s). All applicants will be required to have an advisor's signature as an endorsement and proof that the student has connected with an advisor to discuss their interest in this program. We encourage students to carefully consider the committment required and to explore additional details before applying. 

Learn more about the RAM Program.

Medical Science Internship Program

High school students can apply to serve as interns through the VCU School of Medicine’s Medical Science Internship Program. For six weeks, each intern will be paired with a VCU researcher, some of whom are Massey research members. Under the guidance of the lab mentor, interns will work on a research project. Interns will work in a lab environment and conduct research by proposing hypotheses, performing experiments and analyzing results. Interns will typically be working in the lab Monday through Friday and may average 30+ hours a week, and they will have the opportunity to attend weekly seminars and events sponsored by VCU or by organizations affiliated with VCU. During the last week of the program, the interns will present their projects to their peers, friends, family and the VCU community. 

Learn more about the Medical Science Internship Program.

VCU School of Engineering Dean’s Early Research Initiative

The Dean’s Early Research Initiative (DERI) at the VCU School of Engineering aims to enhance high school students’ exposure to engineering, as well as provide opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to develop skills in mentoring. High school students in their junior year who are interested in engineering or computer science may apply for a one-year fellowship, which begins in the summer. Applicants will be selected based on their GPA (3.3 or higher) and application materials.

DERI fellows are expected to work a total of 60 hours during the summer, starting no earlier than July 1, then continue their fellowship into the school year. During the school year, fellows work four hours each week. They will each receive $200 to attend a local scientific event and may also apply for a travel allowance based on financial need. Research mentors involve the high school student in their ongoing research program. Each mentor will receive a $500 grant to attend a scientific conference, chosen by the faculty mentor.

Learn more about DERI.