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Program Details

  • OPTIMUS takes place Monday through Friday, across six weeks during the summer.
  • Program Dates: July 6 - August 14 (Typically, although this year OPTIMUS is cancelled due to the pandemic)
  • Daily transportation to and from students' schools to UC San Diego will be provided.
  • Students will be awarded a stipend for participation.


Research, Clinical Experience, Active Learning, and Outreach

These four components give students an early opportunity to explore different career paths in oncology and the greater medical field, interact with other students interested in medical science, and learn real-world skills to bring to college and future professions.


Each student will be paired with a faculty researcher and given the opportunity to work in a unique oncology lab over the course of the program. Students will take on responsibilities of a research project, learn laboratory techniques, and practice the scientific method.

Clinical Experience

Students will learn about clinical oncology by participating in hands-on activities such as learning to suture, working through patient-centered cases on teams, and shadowing professionals.

Active Learning

Each week will involve interactive lectures, activities, and field-trips focused on a specific cancer-related topic. This dynamic environment will allow students to use and develop their problem solving skills, critical thinking, and creativity.


Community outreach is a vital aspect of medicine. Students will have the opportunity to see how doctors and researchers conduct outreach, especially to underserved or at-risk populations. Students will have the chance to work with their mentors to create a meaningful outreach program to present their research findings.

Educational Curriculum by Week

​Week One
​Week Two
​Week Three
​Week Four
​Week Five
​Week Six
​​​What Really Is Cancer?
What Is Cancer Research​?​​​How Do We Prevent Cancer?
​​How Do We Detect Cancer?
​How Do We Treat Cancer?​
​​​Career Paths to Explore
Biology of cancer
Types of cancer
What cancer does
Sci​entific method
Basic science
Which ones we can prevent
Imaging / tests
Biopsy and Pathology

Example Schedule

​0900 - 1200
Welcome Festivites
​0900 - 1100
Suture Clinic
​0900 - 1200
Research Lab
0900 - 1130
Research Lab​
0900 - 1500
Field Trip to SDSU​ ​ ​
​1200 - 1500
Research Lab
​1100 - 1500
Research Lab
​1200 - 1330
Lunch & Lecture
​1200 - 1500
Shadowing Physician
Radiation Oncology
1330 - 1500
"The Life of a Tumor"
Scavenger Hunt

This is an example of what a weekly schedule during the program might look like. The actual times and events will change on a weekly basis based on the lecture components for the week.