Students selected to conduct cancer research at University of Iowa

06.15.2017 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur

CURE program, supported by the National Cancer Institute, selected eight students nationwide for research opportunity

PASADENA, Texas – Conducting cancer research, this is how Trung Vu, Kenley Miller, Kevin Rodriguez and Simon Mendoza from San Jacinto College are spending their summer as the only community college students accepted to the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program.

The CURE program, supported by the National Cancer Institute, and a partnership between the University of Iowa and collaborative academic institutions, is designed to provide an atmosphere to train undergraduate students in cancer research. Once selected, the students are assigned mentors at the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, where they study in different labs and work alongside principle investigators for eight weeks for two consecutive summers as paid undergraduate researchers.

Eight students were selected from across the United States for this summer’s program. Miller, who is studying to become a pharmacist, said he looks forward to the research opportunity that could one day change lives. “My mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a year ago, and my sister has juvenile arthritis; these factors drive me to seek this type of opportunity to help others,” he said.

Prior to the summer, Vu, Miller, Rodriguez and Mendoza spent weeks preparing for the program with their mentor Christopher Wild, San Jacinto College department chair of physical sciences and engineering. Wild has conducted cancer research for approximately 10 years. His meetings with the four student researchers covered the topics of basic research etiquette, searching and reading the relevant scientific literature, understanding the basic biology of cancer, and learning about the specific research projects they will work on over the summer.

Wild offered some final words of advice to the students as they prepared to spend the next two months at the University of Iowa, “Some aspects of the research experience will be new and intimidating but remember that you were chosen for this program, and you will be learning at the cutting edge of cancer research. You can make a difference.”

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 30,000 students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers seven areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to a four-year college or university or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.