The Cancer Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) program is the undergraduate program of USC Michelson CSI-Cancer. Each student is assigned a mentor who helps them work on a specific project. CUREs can be seen in both the wet and dry lab, developing assays and creating Markov chain models. Being a CURE student cannot be defined; it is up to the student to set their own goals and project!

Thank you for your interest in the CURE program. The fall 2021 application is closed. Please continue to follow us for updates and information. If you have any questions, contact Allie Welsh,   awelsh@usc.edu.

USC undergraduates interested in the research in our lab are also encouraged to enroll in BISC 410: Applications of Molecular Biology to Medicine taught by professors Kuhn and Hicks. Students should review the prerequisites leading up to BISC 410.


Recapping 2020-2021

  • Coordinated ACE the CURE, our virtual 8-week summer program with 17 students. At the end of the program, students presented the collaborative project on The Key Terms for Conversations About Race and research project to the team.
  • Provost and SOAR undergraduate research fellowship recipients
    • Fall 2020: 5 Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowships, 8 Dornsife SOAR Fellowships
    • Spring 2021: 4 Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowships, 12 Dornsife SOAR Fellowships
  • University and department awards
    • Olivia Hart: Order of Troy Student Recognition Award
    • Ryan Storgard: University Trustees Award and John Petruska Memorial Award in Biological Sciences
    • Mihir Kumar: Okin Scholarship in Biological Sciences
  • Organized Night at the LabEmerging Stronger: The Future of Cancer Care After Covid-19, held virtually in December 2020. The night included presentations from physicians, patient advocates and CSI-Cancer researchers, as well as a virtual tour to our new lab space on the 2nd floor of Michelson Center.
  • Started our Research Exploration and Career Help Program in collaboration with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative to mentor students in the surrounding community
  • Added 5 new students to the program
    • Carla Collier, Carli Kaleta, Audrey Limb, Emmeline Lin, Maddie Walker
  • Class of 2021
    • Olivia Hart, B.A. Health & Human Services, Minor: Spanish, Health Care Studies
    • Carlisle Maney, B.A. Global Health, Minor: Foundations of Data Science
    • Ryan Storgard, B.A. Biological Sciences, M.S. Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine
  • Alumni Updates
    • Kate Cunningham (2020) – starting her MD-PhD at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
    • Kate Rappard (2019) – accepted a new job with the Department of Justice
    • Dillon McKinley (2019) – starting his MD at University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine
    • Preeya Katti (2019) – starting her MD at St. George’s University School of Medicine

The CURE Team

Sachin Narayan

Team: Colorectal Cancer/CAR-T

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Major: Global Health

Minor: Business Finance

Joined: Fall 2018

Research Focus: Applying the HD-SCA3.0 assay to colorectal cancer samples to identify potential prognostic markers from various rare cell populations. Also, developing a CAR-T identification assay for prostate cancer (PSCA/PSMA).

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: LACI, Project RISHI, Trojan Knights, Doctors without Borders

Talk to me about: Hip hop and Bollywood dance

Cameron Baab

Team: Prostate Cancer

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Major: Computer Science

Minor: Computational Biology & Bioinformatics

Joined: Fall 2018

Research Focus: Machine learning/artificial intelligence work with patient data to develop models to predict anything from CTC enumeration to optimal treatment for retinoblastoma patients

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

Involvements on Campus: N/A

Talk to me about: Music production and poker

Eric Yang

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: Developing Recommendation Algorithms for Therapy Response Prediction in Multiple Myeloma

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, BUGS, USC SURF, USC PURF, Trudi Berwin Student Support Award, Mastercard Global Scholarship, SURF Gupta Family Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Community Health Connection, WorldMed, Remedy Through Music, Phi Delta Theta Fraternity

Talk to me about: Duke basketball

Jaden Mullin

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Improved classification of early stage non-small cell lung cancers through addition of HD-SCA work flow

Scholarships and Fellowships: University Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Troy Philippines, Trojan Steel

Talk to me about: Cool jewelry

Aidan Plant

Team: Prostate Cancer

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Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Jazz Studies

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Case Study of AVPC in collaboration with Veterans Affairs

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: USC Climbing Club, SCHO, Jazz Ensemble

Talk to me about: Jazz and food

Nathan Kristanto

Team: Mathematical Oncology

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Major: Biomedical Engineering

Minor: N/A

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Quantifying patient performance status via IoT technology to complement the clinical assessment for enhanced patient care

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

Involvements on Campus: Colleges Against Cancer

Talk to me about: Video Games

Alexander Hill

Team: Head & Neck Cancer

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Identification of biomarkers for Head/Neck cancer and immunotherapy response using the HD-SCA 3.0 workflow.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: USC Triathlon

Talk to me about: Computers and Camping

Carla Collier

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus: Colleges Against Cancer, Joint Educational Program, USC Interaxon, Young Scientists Program, Latino Students in Medicine

Talk to me about: Photography, music, and books

Carli Kaleta

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor:

Joined: Spring 2021

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about:

Amanda Hmelar

Team: Prostate Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Spanish

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: NBDs Rare Cell Classification/Enumeration, HDSCA3.0 Longitudinal Sampling Data Analysis

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: LAC + USC Department of Emergency Medicine Volunteer, Spanglish Tutoring, Troy Camp, USC American Medical Women’s Association, Foreign Service Society

Talk to me about: Snowboarding and sailing

Mihir Kumar

Team: Lung Cancer/CAR-T

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Major: Human Biology & Economics

Minor: Mathematical Finance

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: Characterization of Small Cell Lung Cancer & Tracking/Monitoring CAR-T cells in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Scholarships and Fellowships: Trustee Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Project RISHI, KDSAP, EMSC, Imagining America, SCHO

Talk to me about: Investing options

Vera Hsu

Team: Breast Cancer

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Applied Analytics

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Assessing Copy Number Alterations from Cell-Free DNA in HR+/HER2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients.

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Music Inspiring Community, USC TAO, Camp Kesem

Talk to me about: Mahjong and good food

Dean Tessone

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Health Innovation

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Enumeration and characterization of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles in multiple myeloma and precursor states, as well as analysis of their correlation with disease stage. In addition, focused on developing models that stratify patients based on DNA sequencing and RNA sequencing of tumors.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF, USC Dornsife SOAR Gillman Fellowship

Involvements on Campus: Trojan Knights, Troy Camp

Talk to me about: The best fried chicken in LA

Rithik Rajani

Team: Prostate Cancer/Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Quantitative Biology & Computer Science

Minor: N/A

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Developing a ML model for prostate cancer patients based on CTC predicting patient lifespan

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

Involvements on Campus: Association of Innovative Marketing and Consulting, Photo Club, MEDLife, Project Rishi

Talk to me about: Stocks and options, photography, and electric skateboards

Salmaan Sayeed

Team: Bladder Cancer

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Major: Computational Neuroscience

Minor: Linguistics

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Investigating rare cells in bladder cancer samples to identify prognostic markers of the disease. Developing proteomic biomarkers for phenotypic characterization of CRCs.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF, USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: USC Mobile Clinic, USC Medesign, Intramural Soccer

Talk to me about: English Premier League!

Annie Amacker

Team: Normal Blood Donor

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Health Care Studies

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Utilize the HDSCA 3.0 Normal Blood Donor reports to understand the underlying elements of immunity and disease in non-cancerous cohorts.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, Trojan Tutoring, Colleges Against Cancer, Trojan Health Volunteers, Human Biology Association

Talk to me about: Brooklyn 99

Audrey Limb

Team: Normal Blood Donor

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Health Innovation

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus: Peaks and Professors, Science Outreach, Trojan Health Volunteers, Remedy Through Music

Talk to me about: Sustainable fashion, hiking, and ATLA

Kameron Shahabi

Team: PrecisionPS

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Major: Computer Science

Minor:

Joined: Summer 2021

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about: Sustainable fashion, hiking, and ATLA

Arushi Agrawal

Team: Breast Cancer

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Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: Single Cell Analysis of Treatment Responses and Tumor Evolution in Hormone Receptor-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer patients

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC PURF, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Community Health Connection, Interaxon, Residential Community Council, Project RISHI, Flying Samaritans

Talk to me about: LA restaurants

Jena Tran

Team: IMC

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: Immune Profiling: utilizing imaging mass cytometry (IMC) to characterize immune cells with up to 30 markers

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

Involvements on Campus: Community Health Involvement Project, USC Student Government, USC Food Recovery Network

Talk to me about: The best sad songs

Sean Solomon

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Economics/Mathematics

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Temporal Dynamic Modeling of Multiple Myeloma Progression from Precursor States

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, University Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR, USC PURF

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, Trojan Youth Soccer League, JEP, USC Cycling Team, International Consulting Club, Phi Delta Theta Fraternity

Talk to me about: Triathlon and backpacking

Andrew Chen

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Computer Programming

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Early detection of lung cancer using HD-SCA

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Chaotic 3 Hip Hop, NSQK Dance

Talk to me about: Anything boba related

Lily Bai

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Healthcare Studies & Piano Performance

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Tracking mutations for patients undergoing treatment with stage 3 and 4 non small cell lung cancer

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, Habitats of Humanity

Talk to me about: Traveling and dogs

Hari Mellacheruvu

Team: Lung Cancer

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Major: Quantitative Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: Predictive modeling for non-small cell lung cancer using the HD-SCA 3.0 assay.

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, Share a Meal

Talk to me about: Soccer

Emmeline Lin

Team: Pancreatic Cancer

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Healthcare Studies

Joined: Fall 2020

Research Focus: Using liquid biopsy to identify and compare possible biomarkers in hepatic portal vein and peripheral blood of patients for earlier pancreatic cancer detection and characterization of disease progression

Scholarships and Fellowships: Presidential Scholarship, USC URAP, , USC Dornsife Continuing Students Scholarship, USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: Peer Health Exchange, Community Health Involvement Project, The Coastlander

Talk to me about: Cheese and snowboarding

Maddie Walker

Team: Normal Blood Donor

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: N/A

Joined:

Research Focus:

Scholarships and Fellowships:

Involvements on Campus:

Talk to me about: Backpacking and camping


CURE Events

The CURE Symposium

The CURE Symposium is held twice a year in order to give CURE students an opportunity to present their work. Faculty, mentors, friends, and family are invited to attend this wonderful event showcasing the hard work of our CURE students.

Night at the Lab

Night at the Lab is held once a year in the fall. This event is put on entirely by undergraduates and invites cancer patients, researchers, clinicians, and community members to explore the type of work we do in the lab. Presentations by undergraduates, Drs. Peter Kuhn and Jim Hicks, collaborators, and patient advocates give attendees an in depth view of the current state of cancer care. We hope to see you at the next one!

Senior Presentations

At the end of every school year, our graduating seniors finish off their lab career with a presentation encompassing their college lives, both in and outside of the lab. We celebrate the end of late-night lab thoughts and all the hard work our seniors have put in throughout their time with us.


Summer 2021

Over the course of summer 2021, our undergraduates returned to the lab for the first time in a year. The summer is the best time for our students to make significant progress on their projects, dedicating upwards of 20 hours a week.


Fellowship Awardees

Congratulations to our outstanding students!

Summer 2021
Arushi AgrawalSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carla CollierSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carli KaletaTrudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship
Nathan KristantoTrudi Berwin Student Support Fellowship
Audrey LimbSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jaden MullinSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Spring 2021
Arushi AgrawalSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Alex HillSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Amanda HmelarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Audrey LimbSOAR Dornsife Gupta Family Undergraduate Fellowship
Emmeline LinSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jaden MullinSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Aidan PlantSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Rithik RajaniProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSOAR Dornsife Stone Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Jena TranSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Maddie WalkerSOAR Dornsife Stone Undergraduate Fellowship
Fall 2020
Arushi AgrawalProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Annie AmackerSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Lily BaiSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Olivia HartSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Alex HillSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Aidan PlantSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Dean TessoneSOAR Dornsife Gillman Fellowship
Eric YangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Summer 2020

Arushi AgrawalSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Andrew ChenSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Carlisle ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Salmaan SayeedSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Dean TessoneSURF Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Eric YangSURF Gupta Family Fellowship
Spring 2020
Kate CunninghamProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Eric YangProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Carlise ManeyProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Arushi AgrawalProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Olivia HartSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Mihir KumarSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Daniel LiuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Sean SolomonSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Fall 2019
Kate CunninghamProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ayeshna DesaiProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Ryan StorgardProvost Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Arushi AgrawalSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Vera HsuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship
Isabelle VuSOAR Dornsife Undergraduate Fellowship