Apply For The James D. Popp Summer Research Fellowship

The deadline to apply for the fellowship is March 6, 2023

About the Fellowship:

In the summer of 2008, Dr. Jack Haar, a Professor of Anatomy at VCU at the time, and his son Philip went on a TransAmerica fundraising bicycle ride in an effort to support cancer research. The ride was called RideForJim and was dedicated to the memory of their good friend, Jim Popp, who died of cancer in the summer of 2007. Jim was a superb athlete, trusted physician and beloved father and husband.

The fund was created to establish a fellowship that would encourage first-year medical students to engage in cancer related research during the summer following their first year of medical school. The fellowship includes a stipend to cover living expenses as well as funds to travel to a national cancer research meeting. The purpose of the fellowship is to expose bright medical students to the world of cancer research with the hope that the experience will lead them to a career that will in some way incorporate cancer research with patient care.

From 2008 until 2014 several other dedicated cyclists completed the TransAmerica bicycle fundraising ride.   RideForJim also offered cyclists the opportunity to participate in a single day fundraising event by cycling local loops that culminated in a post-ride celebration honoring them for their fundraising efforts.

Thanks to the contributions of so many generous supporters a James D. Popp Student Research Fellowship has now been awarded ten times.   Click here to read the story of each of these James D. Popp Fellows.


Applicants for the fellowship should have completed the first nine months of medical school and shall be able to articulate a compelling reason for wanting to learn more about cancer research. The award is not intended for students who have previously had extensive research experience or who have already made a commitment to research. Instead it is intended for medical students who may not have previously experienced hypothesis driven research but who, during their first year of medical school, have been awakened to the connection between research and treating or solving a perplexing clinical challenge.

Stipend and expectations:

James D. Popp Summer Research Scholars will receive a stipend of $4000 to be used for summer living expenses plus $1000 to attend a national scientific conference such as the American Association for Cancer Research or a small specialty meeting of the AACR or the Gordon Conferences dedicated to the area of research being studied. They will also be expected to participate in the Forbes Student Honors Colloquium in the spring and the annual Watts Research Symposium in the fall.

Applicants will be required to identify a mentor and laboratory in which to work. Dr. Gordon Ginder,, Professor and Eminent Scholar or Dr. Devanand Sarkar, , Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics, both researchers at our Massey Cancer Center, will assist applicants in identifying an appropriate setting in which to work (See item #9 of the application below). Your mentor must be a member of the Massey Cancer Center, be willing to serve as a sponsor, and provide an environment in which the research fellow can be an active participate in a research project.

Recipients of the award will be expected to devote their maximum effort to full-time work in the laboratory for a minimum of eight weeks during the summer. There is also the expectation that throughout the remaining years of medical school the recipient will make an effort to continue working in the laboratory when time is available.

The James D. Popp Summer Research Scholars will be expected to support activities that promote the James D. Popp Fellowship, serve as spokespersons for Fellowship and help advise future applicants and Fellows.


The application deadline is March 6, 2023

To apply, copy the text of the application below the ‘======’ line (including all questions #1-9) into an email and complete your answers.

Then please submit your application online to Dr. Devanand Sarkar, If you have questions about the application feel free to contact Dr. Sarkar.


James D. Popp Summer Research Fellowship Application

(Please expand the space for your responses as needed)

  1. Name:
  1. Mailing address:
  1. Degree(s) and institution(s) attended
  1. Please provide a PDF file or digital copy of your transcripts, including medical school.
  1. If you have not previously engaged in scientific research, please describe why you have not.
  1. Explain why you are now interested in becoming involved in a research project.
  1. If there is a reason that you are interested in doing cancer related research as opposed to research in some other area, please elaborate.
  1. As best as possible describe your future career plans?   What do you see yourself doing in 15 years?
  1. A critical part of the application is a somewhat in-depth description of the cancer research project with which you will be involved.   To accomplish this it will be necessary for you to first, identify a Massey Cancer Center researcher with whom you would like to work and second, to discuss with that person a project with which you could be a part.   To help you get started with this process, the following are areas with research opportunities:
  • Cancer Cell Signaling
  • Cancer Molecular Genetics
  • Cancer Prevention and Control
  • Developmental Therapeutics
  • Radiation Biology and Oncology

To gain more information about any of these areas you may go to:

Also, for further assistance in selecting a lab, you may contact Dr. Gordon Ginder, or Dr. Devanand Sarkar,

Please identify the researcher with whom you will work and describe the project that you hope to be a part of in sufficient detail for the selection committee to understand basically what you will be doing.

lf you have questions feel free to contact Dr. Devanand Sarkar,