Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program

The Markey Cancer Center’s Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) 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 biomedical career with a focus on cancer-related careers. ACTION was created in 2016 through a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) supplement and has been funded as an NCI Youth Enjoy Science program since 2018. 





To be eligible for the ACTION Program, students must be:

  • A native of one of the 54 Appalachian Kentucky counties;
  • Enrolled in a high school within Appalachian Kentucky as a rising freshman, sophomore, or junior or be a rising University of Kentucky freshman, sophomore, or junior; and
  • A member of an underrepresented group in the research workforce as defined by the NIH, including:
    1. Underrepresented minorities (Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander);
    2. Individuals with disabilities, defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; and/or
    3. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds including those who were or are homeless, were or are in the foster care system, were or are eligible for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program, have no parent/legal guardian who completed a bachelor’s degree, were or are eligible for Federal Pell grants, received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or grew up in a rural or low-income and health professional shortage area.

View the map below to see which counties are eligible for prospective ACTION Program students.

Please find application forms and details for application windows below.

  • The next applications for the ACTION Program will be due as follows:
    • Undergraduate Applications will be due Friday, April 5, 2024, by 5 p.m.
    • High School Applications will be due Friday, May 3, 2024, by 5 p.m.

Application Forms and Recommendations

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

ACTION Program Saturday Session Schedule 2023-2024

Monthly Saturday Sessions

  • August 19–20, 2023, Overnight Trip to Louisville
  • September 2, 2023 
  • October 7, 2023  
  • November 4, 2023, Walk to End Colon Cancer (Families are welcome to attend) 
  • December 2, 2023  
  • January 6, 2024  
  • February 3, 2024  
  • March 2, 2024 
  • April 6, 2024 
  • May 4, 2024  

* Unless special times are announced, monthly sessions will begin at 10 am and end by 4 pm.

ACTION High School Summer Residential Program Dates

  • Sunday, June 9, 2024 (Move-In Day)
  • Saturday, July 13, 2024 (End-of-summer symposium and Move-out)

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.

These forms are due by May 1st.

Nathan Vanderford

Nathan Vanderford, PhD, MBA

University of Kentucky College of Medicine
780 Rose Street
Willard Medical Education Building
Lexington, KY 40536

Phone: 859-323-2622 
Twitter: @nlvanderford








program badge

ACTION Program Badge

Participants that complete the ACTION Program will be awarded an ACTION Program Completion Badge. This digital badge signifies the totality of participants’ work in the program and their preparedness to address the cancer disparities in Appalachian Kentucky by pursuing cancer-related careers and conducting impactful community outreach to enhance cancer awareness across the region.   

Upon completion of the program, the program coordinator will email participants a final survey to complete followed by downloads of the digital badge for personal and professional use.

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.