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Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program



The Markey Cancer Center (MCC) has established a new educational pipeline program: the MCC Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program. First established as the Career Training in Oncology Program (CTOP) in 2016, the program offers Appalachian Kentucky high school and undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Kentucky the opportunity to gain cancer research, clinical, outreach and education experiences that will enrich their interest in pursuing a cancer-focused career.

  • Eligibility

    To be eligible for the program, students must:

    1. Be a native of one of the 54 Appalachian Kentucky counties.
    2. Be enrolled in a high school within Appalachian Kentucky as a freshman or sophomore or be a current University of Kentucky incoming freshman, sophomore or junior.
    3. Be a member of our target population (underrepresented minority, female, from a low income family, first generation college student, or otherwise underserved student).
  • Apply

    The deadline for applying to the ACTION Program has passed.

    • ACTION Undergraduate Applications will be available Spring 2020.
    • ACTION High School Applications will be available Fall 2020.
  • High School Summer Forms

    In preparation for the ACTION summer program, high school participants must review and return certain documents such as permission forms, photo waivers, a student contract and more.

    Download these forms online (1.5 MB) and please bring them completed to the May 4th orientation or mail them to our office at 800 Rose Street, N09 | Ben F. Roach Building, Lexington, KY 40536-0093.

  • Key dates

    Please take note of the key ACTION Program dates for high school participants below.

    ACTION Orientation (Required for students and parents/guardians)

    • Saturday, May 4, 2019
    • Specific times and locations will be provided to successful applicants by early April 2019.

    ACTION Summer Residential Program

    • Sunday, June 9, 2019 through Friday, July 12, 2019.
  • Our goals

    • To develop participants’ cancer research knowledge and skills through cross-disciplinary faculty-mentored research training experiences.
    • To enhance students’ cancer-focused career preparation by providing didactic cancer education and career development mentoring through faculty-led courses, workshops, seminars, and career coaching and mentoring.
    • To conduct outreach activities in participant communities to increase the understanding of the research and clinical aspects of cancer and the importance of science education among universities; primary and secondary school groups; civic organizations; health care providers; and the families and communities of our student participants.
    • To evaluate program progress and impacts, focusing on longitudinal participant data (including tracking progression of participants through their academic and professional careers) and outreach activity efficacy.

  • Our plan

    Students will be paired with a research faculty mentor who will provide an enriching research experience and with a clinical faculty mentor who will provide a clinical perspective on cancer. Students will obtain didactic cancer education and participate in outreach activities. We will also form a peer-to-peer mentoring network in which current UK graduate students and ACTION students will meet formally at least once per month and more informally as desired. Within the academic year our students will be expected to dedicate at least 10 hours per week to the program, and during the summer, students will dedicate 40 hours per week.

    Ultimately, we will create an atmosphere of career development, lifelong learning, and sustained mentorship that will be focused on training the next generation of cancer researchers, education/prevention experts, and/or clinicians or other healthcare providers.

  • Outreach

    Participants of the ACTION Program will work with program personnel to provide cancer research and clinical cancer education information to Appalachian Kentucky residents. The outreach activities will focus specifically on three target audiences:

    1. Middle school, high school and undergraduate students.
    2. Parents and families of the ACTION participants.
    3. Teachers, community members and civic leaders.

    Through involvement in outreach activities, ACTION participants will be trained to become change agents in their communities related to enhancing cancer-related literacy throughout Appalachian Kentucky.

  • Personnel

    • Nathan Vanderford, PhD, MBA
      • Director, ACTION Program
      • Assistant Professor, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology
      • Assistant Director for Research, UK Markey Cancer Center
      • Director of Administration, Center for Cancer and Metabolism
    • B. Mark Evers, MD, FACS
      • Associate Director, ACTION Program
      • Director, UK Markey Cancer Center
      • Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Surgery
    • Donald T. Frazier, PhD
      • Associate Director, ACTION Program
      • Director, Donald T. Frazier Science Outreach
      • Professor Emeritus, Department of Physiology
    • Chris Prichard
      • Program Coordinator, ACTION Program
    • Melissa Hounshell
      • Outreach Coordinator, ACTION Program
      • Director of Community Outreach, UK Markey Cancer Center
  • Committees

    Internal Advisory Committee

    • Susanne Arnold, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Director of Clinical Translation, UK Markey Cancer Center
    • Sonja Feist-Price, PhD, Vice President for Institutional Diversity
    • Robert Hayes, Acting Associate Director of First Generation Initiatives/Robinson Scholars Program
    • Carlos Marin, Assistant Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement
    • Tim Mullett, MD, Professor of Surgery and Medical Director, UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network
    • Kathleen O’Connor, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and Associate Director for Cancer Education, UK Markey Cancer Center
    • Kristin O’Leary, University of Kentucky Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology Undergraduate Student
    • Nancy Schoenberg, PhD, Professor of Behavioral Science and Associate Dean for Research, College of Public Health
    • Brett Spear, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
    • Daret St. Clair, PhD, Professor of Toxicology and Cancer Biology and Associate Director for Basic Research, UK Markey Cancer Center

    External Advisory Committee

    • Maurice Godfrey, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Nebraska
    • Jennifer Harris, MD, PhD, Surgical Oncology Fellow, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    • Monica Mynk, Science Teacher, Powell County High School
    • Ann Richmond, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University
    • Phillip Sharp, PhD, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Tamara Stewart, Director, EKU Upward Bound
  • Cohorts


    High School Cohort #1

    William Adams, Letcher County - Letcher County High School

    Natalie Barker, Elliott County - Elliott County High School

    Rachel Collins, Clay County - Clay County High School

    Andrew Davidson, Rowan County - Rowan County High School

    Holly Dickens, Rowan County - Rowan County High School

    Zachary Hall, Letcher County - Letcher County High School

    Abigail Isaacs, Garrard County - Garrard County High School

    Shahid Jabbar, Bath County - Bath County High School

    Julie Kiser, Letcher County - Letcher County High School

    Kinley Lewis, Elliott County - Elliott County High School

    Nolan Marcum, Carter County - East Carter High School

    Alyviah Newby, Russell County - Russell County High School

    Katelyn Nigro, Whitley County - Whitley County High School

    Solomon Patton, Carter County - West Carter High School

    Brianna Reyes, Carter County - East Carter High School

    Megan Schlosser, Pulaski County - Pulaski County High School

    Kaitlin Schumaker, Laurel County - North Laurel High School

    Spencer Shelton, Whitley County - Whitley County High School

    Haleigh Thompson, Lawrence County - Lawrence County High School

    Ethan Tiller, Carter County - East Carter High School

    Undergrad Cohorts

    • Cohort #1

    Emily Bertram, Wayne County

    Katie Bernardo, Laurel County

    Catherine Curren, Clark County

    Trevor Farmer, Pulaski County

    Matthew Melton, Powell County

    Henry Moore, Whitley County

    Kristin O'Leary, Metcalfe County

    Morgan Sexton, Knott County

    • Cohort #2

    Rachelle Fairchild, Johnson County

    Rebeckah Fairchild, Johnson County

    Charles Farmer, Harlan County

    Hannah Hillard, Rockcastle County

    Devin Montgomery, Pulaski County

    Dylan Patrick, Boyd County

    Kerrigan Samons, Johnson County

    Carrigan Wasilchenko, Powell County

    • Cohort #3

    Kaley Collett, Leslie County

    Haley Dicken, Russell County

    Paiton Garvin, Carter County

    Susanna Goggans, Johnson County

    Caroline Jenkins, Montgomery County

    Emory Wilds, Pulaski County

    Taylor Williams, Perry County

    Lala Zheng, Harlan County

    • Cohort #4

    Michael Buoncristiani, Wayne County

    Emily Deubel, Rockcastle County

    Tyra Gilbert, Leslie County

    Abby Hill, Madison County

    Tyce Riddle, Pike County

    Courtney Sexton, Powell County

    Alexia Shamaei Zadeh, Johnson County

    Shaylla Shelton, Pulaski County