Through excellence in cancer research, education, and community engagement, the Partnership between the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center aims to reduce health disparities derived from infection-driven malignancies in Texas and Puerto Rico, and increase the number of Hispanics pursuing careers in cancer research.

Contacts

PMB 371 PO Box 70344 San Juan, PR 00936-8344

uprmdacc@upr.edu

(787)-772-8300 Exts. (1119, 1150)

// Overview

The overall goal of REC is to produce a critical mass of Hispanic cancer investigators and health professionals dedicated to cancer research, treatment, and health disparities in unrepresented minorities and underserved communities by providing an integrated program of education and hands-on mentored research experiences.

The REC Program is Directed by Ilka C. Ríos, DMD, MS; Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Professor, Surgical Sciences Department, UPR School of Dental Medicine, Director and Mentor of MD/PhD and MD/MPH Programs.

The Program Contact is the Research Education Core Coordinator Yomarie Santiago. You can reach her at yomarie.santiago1@upr.edu or by calling (787) 772-8300 Ext. 1101.

The REC is based on a 17-year history of educational and training activities that provide the foundation for expanding and strengthening the established cancer educational tracks through new initiatives and programs. Over 500 students and faculty have participated in the multiple research education and career development

Opportunities to date.

MD/PhD

In this MD/PhD program, the student completes the first three years of medical school at the University of Puerto Rico School (UPR) of Medicine at the Medical Sciences Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Once the student successfully completes the USMLE Steps I and II, they can begin their doctoral training at the UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. A PhD degree is obtained after successful defending their thesis. Subsequently, the student will complete final year of medical school at the UPR School of Medicine. With the execution of all requirements for both degrees at both institutions, the MD and PhD degrees are awarded.

Eligibility:

  • Be admitted and enrolled in the UPR School of Medicine MD Program
  • Be interested in pursuing a career in cancer research
  • Maintain a grade average of 3.00 or above while in medical school
  • Be selected by dual degree Admissions Committee
  • Apply to MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

MD/MPH

Timeline

Similar to the MD/PhD program, the student completes the first three years of medical school at the University of Puerto Rico School (UPR) of Medicine at the Medical Sciences Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Concurrently, the student enrolls in the MPH program in public health at UTHealth School of Public Health at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Twelve credits from the UPR School of Medicine are accepted as elective MPH course credits. Then the final year of medical school is completed at the UPR School of Medicine. With the completion of all requirements for both degrees at both institutions, the MD and MPH degrees are awarded.

Eligibility:

  • Be enrolled in the UPR School of Medicine MD Program
  • Be interested in pursuing a career in cancer research and population sciences
  • Maintain a grade average of 3.00 or above while in medical school

Be selected by dual degree committee

Dual Degree Application Process

  1. As soon as the student gets admitted to the UPR School of Medicine, he/she should write a letter to the Program Director, Dr. Ilka Rios, expressing the interest in pursuing the dual degree program, either MD/PhD or MD/MPH
  2. The student will be interviewed by a committee composed of representatives from the U54 and of each of the schools.
  3. After the interviews, the student is encouraged to apply to the school corresponding to their selected dual degree track:
  • UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences On-line application available in

https://gsbs.uth.edu/admissions/

  • UTHealth School of Public Health
    • On-line application available in

https://sph.uth.edu/application/

  1. These applications are evaluated by the admission committees of the corresponding graduate school, according to their admission process and requirements. For MD/PhD the MCAT score is considered in leu of the GRE.
  • MD/PhD
    • Students must apply to UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences either during the first or second year of medicine, due in December.
    • Students are also encouraged to apply to the Summer Research Experience for the summer between first and second year of medicine. This experience can be counted as one of the 3 research rotations required for the PhD program.
  • MD/MPH
  • Students must apply to the UTHealth School of Public Health during the first year of medicine.
  1. Once the student is notified of admission to the corresponding graduate school
  • MD/PhD students will start the PhD after completing the 3rd year of the MD curriculum and approving USMLE Step II.

MD/MPH students will start MPH courses during the summer between the first and the second year of Medicine. Some of these courses will be taken on-line.

This program sponsors promising graduate and undergraduate UPR students to obtain hands-on research experiences under the mentorship of UPR and UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty. Students will receive a stipend for their work up to 20 hours a week.

Timeline

The students can participate for a semester, 2 semesters, or the whole year.

Eligibility:

  • Undergraduates and graduates pursuing studies in science
  • Minimum academic cumulative average of 3.30 or above
  • Be interested in conducting research related to cancer
  • Identify a mentor from the UPR and/or UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center to be his/her immediate supervisor

Application:

  • Submit a recommendation from the mentor that will be supervising him/her.
  • Submit information and documents required by the institutional day-labor student program.
  • The student must contact the REC Coordinator, Mrs. Yomarie Santiago, who will help him/her submit the administrative documents required.

The Partnership Summer Research Program offers college and medical trainees from the University of Puerto Rico System an opportunity to explore biomedical research as it relates to cancer, to gain firsthand experiences and mentorship in basic, clinical or translational research alongside world-renowned faculty, as well as to attend targeted institutional lectures and seminars. Some of the program benefits include:

  • Active participation in the technical aspects of projects, interpret experimental data, as well as present findings;
  • Mentorship in the fundamentals of scientific research, which include application of techniques, experimental design and analysis, as well as how to present and publish findings suitable for peer review; 
  • Introduction to the clinical problems presented by cancer patients through time spent in clinical areas; and
  • Numerous opportunities to attend seminars and lecture series on a wide variety of research topics.

Return visits are offered to trainees demonstrating a sincere interest in biomedical research and an outstanding research ability during their visit.  

For more application information:

https://www.mdanderson.org/education-training/degrees-programs/summer-research-programs/information-for-summer-experience-applicants.html

Registered semester 2 credit courses on topics related to cancer research:
-Responsible conduct for research
-Enhancing verbal and writing skills
-Research methodology
-An advanced topic in cancer course offered in one week (30 contact hours), 2 semester credits

*Topics are different each year*

Course NameCourse CodeContact Hours

Credits

(semester)

Timeline
Enhancing verbal, analytical reading and writing skills for Cancer Research

INTD 5125

7125 8125

362Fall 2023
Responsible Conduct in Research with Emphasis on Cancer ProjectsINTD 5135 8135362Spring 2022
Research Methodology and Design Focused on Cancer ResearchINTD 5145 8145362Fall 2021
Data Analysis in Cancer ResearchINTD 5065 8065362Spring 2023
Advanced Topics in Cancer*: Emerging Technologies for Detection and Treatment of CancerINTD 5997 8996302Intensive one week January

*Topics are different each year.

  • Research rotations for PhD students at MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Grant writing workshop
  • Mentoring