Thanks for visiting!

This project is now in update mode. Check back regularly to see how things are progressing.

UPCI Academy

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
24 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on September 13, at 11:59 PM EDT
Project Owners

UPCI Academy

Although their EngagePitt™ campaign has concluded, if you would still like to make a donation to the UPCI Academy, you may always do so here.


Our Mission:

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Academy is a nationally recognized and award-winning STEM program. The UPCI Academy strives to provide cutting edge and one-on-one mentored research and career preparatory experiences to a diverse group of highly motivated high school students who are pursuing higher education and careers in STEM fields, especially research and medicine.

We aim to increase both the number and diversity of students prepared for research and medical careers and aim long-term to enhance cancer research and treatment through this pipeline.

2016 UPCI Academy

                                             2016 UPCI Academy Students

Our Students:

The UPCI Academy has grown to support ~60 students per summer. Through our 8 years, we have attempted to initiate or perpetuate an interest in clinical research to 284 students, 124 of which are considered to be from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. We aim to make Pittsburgh stronger through the education of local students. Accordingly, the vast majority (~75%) of the students are from the Pittsburgh area. However, students have been accepted from over 100 high schools from more than 23 states.

Many of our alumni have co-authored manuscripts and abstracts from their work with their UPCI Academy mentor and have won many prestigious science fairs, awards, and scholarships. Alumni have gone on to attend local and world renowned universities including Pitt, CMU, Penn State, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and many more.

Greater than 90% of our students have matriculated into STEM related fields, supporting the literature that a key to persistence in STEM is mentorship and early research experiences.

What we provide:

  • Authentic Research: UPCI Academy students are completely emerged into a full-time, 8-week authentic research project designed by their mentor. The authenticity of their research is highlighted by ~20 peer-reviewed coauthor manuscript publications, ~20 abstracts published in peer-review journals, 9 abstracts in conference or journal proceedings, and 5 national presentations at highly regarded scientific and educational conferences.
  • Mentorship: To date, over 130 unique primary faculty members have served as mentors to UPCI Academy students. Additionally, nearly that many postdoctoral fellows and graduate students have served as co-mentors. Together they provide individual mentorship throughout the summer research project and provide advice and letters of recommendation for years following.
  • Academic and Career Development: In addition to their research experiences, the students attend seminars from world renowned scientists and clinicians. Additionally, through the UPCI Academy, students are exposed to a variety of internal and external speakers on topics including leadership, diversity awareness, time management, effective scientific communication, and the successful navigation of college, graduate school, and medical school, plus much more. Communication enrichment is an emphasis of the Academy. Students learn how to read scientific papers and discuss both others’ and their own work through several events during the summer. At the end of the summer, students present professional talks and posters at the annual UPCI Academy Symposium that is open to the public and attended by scientists throughout the University.

The impact of your donation:

You can help support the education of the next generation of diverse scientists, not only impacting their lives but those of their future students, mentees, and patients. Your generous donation to our campaign will help cover:

  • Transportation fees to move the students to their respective sites of research and to UPCI Academy-wide events located throughout our urban campus and the city of Pittsburgh.
  • Administrative fees including, but not limited to, the cost to print their professional posters that can be reused at other symposia and science fairs and the cost to print and prepare the abstract book from the annual symposium.
  • Food. We provide all students with free lunch, plus cater several events during the program.
  • Supplies. Lab supplies for recruiting events at schools and for mentor/mentee pairs, if necessary for their authentic research project.
  • Volunteer fees. Each summer, we have nearly 100 volunteers who give their time and own research funds to mentor and teach UPCI Academy students. The program would not be possible without these volunteers. State law requires that all volunteers working with minors most obtain state and federal clearances that costs $45 per person. We would like to pay these fees for all of our gracious mentors and other volunteers.
  • And much, much, more.

How you can help:

  • Donate: The program is free for local students. Those that require housing pay at cost. Additionally, stipends are provided to those from underrepresented backgrounds to encourage participation from diverse backgrounds. We need your help to remain free and accessible to ALL students.
  • Spread the word: Share this link! Also, do you know of a student or a school that might benefit from our program? Do you know an individual, corporation, or foundation that would like to support our program? Please let us know and have them contact us. Events, seminars, symposia, etc are available for sponsorship.


Choose a giving level


Pipette Level

Starting on their journey, you will help to feed a UPCI Academy student for a week.


Centrifuge Level

As UPCI Academy alumni progress to college they will always remember their mentor, who your donation allowed to participate without clearance fees.


PCR Level

While presenting at the American Association Cancer Research Symposium in 2022, the UPCI Academy alumni will think fondly of the first professional poster paid for by your donation.


Tissue Culture Level

To give back the UPCI Academy alumni will take their research into a high school classroom, which is how they originally heard of the UPCI Academy themselves, paid for by your donation.


Confocal Microscope Level

When seeking their first independent grant, UPCI Academy alumni will hope for another generous donor like you to provide lab supplies.


Flow Cytometry Level

As the mentees become the mentors, UPCI Academy alumni will advise the next generation of scientists through their first talks, as they were advised at the UPCI Academy Symposium that your donation generously supported.


NextGen Sequencer Level

Reminiscing on their flight to Stockholm, an UPCI Academy alumni will remember where it all started, on the shuttle to their first research experience that your donation graciously supplied.

Our Crowdfunding Groups