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!

We are no longer accepting applications for the Spring 2020 semester. Please check back in August 2020. We encourage you to keep in contact and join us at our upcoming events. Follow us on Instagram @uscmichelsoncsicancer, facebook, twitter @uscmichelsoncsi, and look out for updates on this page.

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.


Summer Program: ACE the CURE

In light of the COVID-19 realities, CSI-Cancer is announcing ACE the CURE (Augmented Campus Education for the Cancer Undergraduate Research Experience), an 8-week Virtual Summer Program which includes workshops, journal clubs, team building exercises, and professional development. This program could not have been developed without the motivation and support from all our staff and students who have committed their time and resources in curating an exciting curriculum. 

Each week the students will be immersed in a theme led by renowned USC faculty and scientists. They will actively engage and participate in forward moving discussions while receiving personalized mentorship. By the end of the program, students will present a collaborative project along with their individual research project.

ACE the CURE is designed to provide our students with an intensive educational experience, while shaping the future generation of scientists in our community. Together we are inventing the future of education in cancer research. 

A summary of the schedule is below. For more details, visit here.

WeekDatesTheme
1June 1-5OCULAR
2June 8-12Cell Biology
3June 15-19Data Science
4June 22-26Clinical Care and Research
Summer Mid Point (Off)
5July 6-10Math Modeling
6July 13-17Developing a Research Project
7July 20-24Public Health
8July 27-31Presentations

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

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

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

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

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: N/A

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

Talk to me about: Jazz and food

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

Involvements on Campus: Science Outreach, Habitats of Humanity

Talk to me about: Traveling and dogs

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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: N/A

Involvements on Campus: USC Triathlon

Talk to me about: Computers and Camping

Olivia Hart

Team: CAR-T

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Major: Health and Human Sciences

Minor: Spanish & Healthcare Studies

Joined: Spring 2019

Research Focus: Morphological analysis and comparison of circulating tumor cells in early and late stage breast cancer patients; Developing an HD-SCA rare cell identification assay to detect and analyze CAR-T cells through a liquid biopsy

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SOAR, BUGS

Involvements on Campus: Trojan Health Volunteers, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority

Talk to me about: Skydiving in Switzerland

Carlisle Maney

Team: Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Global Health

Minor: N/A

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Predicting therapy response in patients with multiple myeloma

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC PURF, Gilman Scholarship

Involvements on Campus: Kicks for Kids, Keck Student Ambassador, Pi Beta Phi Sorority

Talk to me about: The outdoors

Vera Hsu

Team: Breast Cancer

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Applied Analytics

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Assessing Treatment Response and Acquired Drug Resistance of HR+/HER2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients through Liquid Biopsy

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: Osteosarcoma/Multiple Myeloma

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Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Healthcare Studies and Health Innovation

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Assay development focused on detecting circulating osteogenic lineage cells in the peripheral blood in order to better detect osteosarcoma metastases and disease progression through states of multiple myeloma.

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SURF

Involvements on Campus: Trojan Knights, Troy Camp

Talk to me about: The best fried chicken in LA

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

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

Talk to me about: English Premier League!

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

Annie Amacker

Team: OCULAR

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Major: Human Biology

Minor: Health Innovation

Joined: Spring 2020

Research Focus: HD-SCA 3.0 Atlas

Scholarships and Fellowships: N/A

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

Talk to me about: Brooklyn 99

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

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

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

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

Daniel Liu

Team: Prostate Cancer

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Major: Biochemistry

Minor: N/A

Joined: Fall 2019

Research Focus: Integrative molecular characterization of circulating and disseminated tumor cells from high-risk localized prostate cancer patients

Scholarships and Fellowships: USC Dornsife SOAR

Involvements on Campus: Troy Camp, Dornsife Ambassador, USC Resident Assistant

Talk to me about: Pokemon and food

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

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


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. Check out our latest virtual celebration of senior Kate Cunningham below!


Fellowship Awardees

Congratulations to our outstanding students!

Summer 2020 Awardees

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 Awardees

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 Awardees

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