NCI-Designated Cancer Center

Education and training
D'Angelo Lab group photo

Education and training

The Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys is dedicated to training the next generation of cancer researchers and to increasing science literacy in the community we serve. We provide a continuum of training opportunities that range from high school and undergrad students, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and fellows, to our junior and senior faculty. Our educational programs are designed to engage scientific interest in the community and to prepare our trainees and faculty to become leaders in the fight against cancer. We are committed to creating an inclusive, respectful, and stimulating academic environment where everyone can reach their highest potential.
Kevin Yip, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Education and Training

Postbaccalaureate program

The Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys is spearheading the LEAP (Lab Experience As Pathway) to Graduate School Program. The goal of this one-year program is to provide recent college graduates with the mentored training, laboratory skills, and professional development needed to be competitive and successful in STEM Ph.D. programs.

LEAP Program

Community engagement

Through our Cancer Center open houses, public events, and broad audience seminars we aim to inform the community about the most recent advances in cancer research.

Our Community Advisory Board provides advocacy, patient perspectives and is a critical partner in our community engagement efforts.

Senior faculty

The Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys recognizes that the continuous development of our faculty is essential to build a rewarding career and is paramount to the success of our institution. Our senior scientists have access to peer advisory groups, executive team retreats and leadership and development activities that foster professional growth.  Workshops on new scientific technologies from our shared scientific cores, networking opportunities with other institutions to foster interdisciplinary collaborations, and exposure to multiple internal and external seminar series are some of the opportunities that support our scientist careers and development. 

Junior faculty

The Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys has several initiatives to nurture and mentor its junior faculty to support their career success. Our early career scientists participate in formal luncheons with senior faculty to discuss challenges, opportunities, grant submission and training. Our junior faculty also participate in program meetings, faculty luncheons and retreats, and have access to peer advisory groups and workshops on a wide range of topics from leadership and grantsmanship, to our scientific core technologies. Opportunities to teach in our institute graduate school program provide junior faculty to the tools to develop their educational and mentoring skills and participation in the organization of institutional events such as annual symposiums, seminar series, and cancer center faculty retreats contribute to the development of their organization and networking skills.


The Cancer Center acknowledges at Sanford Burnham Prebys that postdoctoral training is critical for biomedical research and an essential step in the successful development of a scientific career. Our Cancer Center provides a unique research environment where postdoctoral fellows participate in state-of-the-art-cancer research programs combining basic and translational science. Our trainees can choose to join our association of postdoctoral scientists and graduate students (SBP-SN) and have access to multiple career exploration and preparation workshops, leadership development and training opportunities offered by our Office of Education, Training, & International Services.

Postdoctoral fellows can also participate in our shared core technology workshops, seminar series, and career mentorship opportunities offered in collaboration with our NCI Cancer Center Council partners. Multiple fellowship opportunities are also available for postdoctoral trainees at the Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys, our Eric Dudl Scholarship, our Fishman Fund Fellowship and Career Development Awards. We are committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive postdoctoral community that fosters creativity, encourages collaboration and supports career development.
Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Opportunities

Graduate education

Sanford Burnham Prebys has a Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences that is interwoven with our Cancer Center. Graduate students can train in our Cancer Research laboratories, and take advantage of seminars, courses and workshops organized by our Cancer Center. The Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate Program's vision includes a focus on state-of-the-art technology, an entrepreneurial mindset and a highly personalized program, dedicated to educating the next generation of outstanding biomedical scientists who will drive future cutting-edge basic and translational research.

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences


Undergraduate and high school internships

Our focus on education also extends to train the next generation of cancer research leaders. We provide opportunities for undergraduate and high school students from diverse backgrounds to learn about cancer from our research scientists at different levels of their careers. Our programs foster the interactions between dedicated students and our cancer scientists and provide them hands-on laboratory experience in cancer research.

Undergraduate and High School Internships

LEAP ProgramLEAP (lab experience as pathway) logo

Lab Experience As Pathway

Thank you for your interest in the LEAP to Graduate School Postbacc Program!

The Lab Experience As Pathway to Graduate School (LEAP to Grad School) is a one-year mentored training and career development experience designed to prepare recent college graduates with new skills and lab experience to become more competitive and succeed in STEM Ph.D. programs.


The overarching goal of this one-year program is to provide recent college graduates with the mentored training, laboratory skills, and professional development needed to be competitive and successful in STEM Ph.D. programs.

An additional goal of the program is to recruit and support participants from historically marginalized groups in STEM, who may face additional barriers to developing a successful research career.


  • Eligible students are current college seniors and recent graduates (2021 or later) in a science-related field.
  • Due to federal funding guidelines, applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Applicants must reside in the greater San Diego area for the duration of the program.
  • Applicants from historically marginalized groups are strongly encouraged to apply. See NIH criteria and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Research Experience

The program will provide both classroom and laboratory training. The classroom portion will introduce fundamental concepts of scientific research and workshops on scientific communication and leadership development. The laboratory portion will provide hands-on training in basic experimental techniques and research experience. Participants will be matched to perform scientific research in either one (one full year) or two laboratories (6 months in each laboratory). Participants will participate in ongoing projects in the mentor’s lab and gain hands-on experience in wet-lab and/or dry-lab (computational) techniques.

During the one-year program, each participant is expected to participate full-time. Our program consists of 80% research and 20% professional development modules and workshops. Participants will convene on a weekly basis for cohort meetings, training modules and workshops.


  • Fundamentals of Experimental Research will cover basic concepts that underlie experimental scientific research, such as critical thinking, generation and testing of hypotheses, use of controls, and logical interpretation of results.
  • Basic Experimental Techniques will explain and provide hands-on training of basic experimental techniques commonly used in biomedical research, such as biochemistry, computational biology, genetics, microscopy, sterile techniques, and tissue culture.
  • Fundamentals of Modern Drug Discovery will provide an overview of drug discovery approaches and introduce participants to the basics of high throughput automation and miniaturization through a blend of lectures and hands-on training.

Workshops include

  • Oral and Written Scientific Communication - will explain principles of effective scientific communication and provide corresponding practical training. 
  • Leadership Development - this workshop series will cover self- assessment, understanding others, communication preferences, navigating conflict, developing cultural competence, and creating an inclusive lab environment.
  • Graduate School Application Preparation - this workshop will explain the graduate school application and selection process. Topics to be covered include preparation of CV, writing personal statements, selecting a school, obtaining strong reference letters, and preparing for interviews.

What’s unique about the LEAP Program?

A unique feature of this program is the opportunity to receive hands-on training and experience in modern drug discovery offered in partnership with the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics.

When does the LEAP Program Start?

The LEAP Program will run from July 1, 2024 - June 30, 2025.

Applying to the LEAP Program

Our application portal will open on Monday, January 29, 2024. The last day to submit your application is Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Selection Process

The Review Committee will evaluate all completed applications received by the deadline. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive notification by March. Interviews will take place via Zoom in April. Notifications of acceptance to the program will be sent by May.

  • $41,500 annual stipend plus benefits.
  • High quality 1:1 mentorship from our world-renowned scientists.
  • Cohort structure to enhance your social and professional network. 

Apply Now


For inquiries and more information, please contact the LEAP Postbacc Program at


Mentors are established principal investigators whose research spans a broad array of topics, from autophagy to metabolism and more, impacting many disease areas, such as cancer, neurodegeneration, and metabolic disorders. 

See below for the current list of mentors that will participate in the LEAP Program. Note that this list will be updated as more mentors indicate their willingness to participate.