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9 Best Cancer Research Competitions for High School Students

4 minute read

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Cancer research is a critical field with the potential to change lives and save countless individuals. High school students interested in science and medicine have the opportunity to make a significant impact by participating in cancer research competitions. These competitions not only offer valuable experience but also encourage young minds to explore this challenging field. In this blog post, we will explore the best cancer research competitions for high school students.

1. National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Research Competition

  • Benefits: Recognition and the chance to contribute to cancer research.

  • Deadline: Typically in April.

The NCI offers a cancer research competition specifically for high school students. This competition focuses solely on cancer research and offers young scientists the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of this complex disease.


2. Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)

  • Benefits: Scholarships, internships, and global recognition.

  • Deadline: Varies by region.

  • Competition Date: Typically held in May.

ISEF is the largest pre-college science competition globally, and it welcomes projects from various scientific fields, including cancer research. High school students can present their findings on the global stage and potentially win scholarships, internships, and other valuable prizes.


3. Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

  • Benefits: Scholarships, mentorship opportunities, and national recognition.

  • Deadline: Typically in September.

  • Competition Date: Regional competitions occur in November, with the national finals in December.

The Siemens Competition is another renowned competition that encourages high school students to conduct cutting-edge scientific research. Cancer-related projects can be a significant part of this competition. Participants get the chance to collaborate with mentors, develop research skills, and compete at regional, national, and international levels.

  • Benefits: Scholarships, national recognition, and the opportunity to present innovative research.

  • Deadline: Typically in November.

  • Competition Date: Finalists announced in January.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is one of the most prestigious competitions for high school students. While it's not exclusively focused on cancer research, it provides a platform for young scientists to delve into various scientific disciplines, including cancer biology. Participants can explore innovative solutions to pressing problems in oncology and present their findings.


5. Conrad Challenge

  • Benefits: Mentorship, global collaboration, and the opportunity to address real-world problems through innovation.

  • Deadline: Typically in November.

  • Competition Date: Regional and national events are held in the spring.

The Conrad Challenge is an excellent opportunity for high school students to work on innovative projects that address pressing global challenges, including those related to cancer. Participants have access to mentors and resources that can help them turn their ideas into real-world solutions. The competition encourages collaboration, creativity, and a focus on making a positive impact on society. Keep in mind that application deadlines and competition dates may vary each year, so it's important to check the official Conrad Challenge website for the most current information and application details.

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6. National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)

  • Benefits: Scholarships and networking opportunities.

  • Deadline: Varies by region.

  • Competition Date: Regional events are held in the winter, with the national competition in April.

JSHS is a competition that encourages high school students to conduct original research in the sciences. While not cancer-specific, students with a passion for cancer research can use this platform to present their work and connect with other young scientists.


7. Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS)

  • Award: Scholarships up to $250,000

  • Deadline: Usually in November

  • Competition Dates: January - March

The Regeneron STS is one of the most prestigious research competitions for high school students. While not solely focused on cancer research, it offers a platform for students to showcase their work in various scientific fields, including cancer biology.


8. Cancer Unwrapped High School Essay Contest

  • Award: Prizes up to $1,000

  • Deadline: March 1, 2024

  • Competition Date: Winners are announced in the spring.

The Cancer Unwrapped Essay Contest provides an excellent opportunity for high school students to express their thoughts and ideas about their experiences with cancer through well-crafted essays. This competition not only encourages writing skills but also raises awareness about cancer and its impact on society.


9. The Breakthrough Junior Challenge

  • Benefits: A $250,000 post-secondary scholarship, a $100,000 science lab for the winner's school, and the opportunity to present a scientific concept in a creative video.

  • Deadline: Typically in June.

  • Competition Date: Winners are announced in December.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge encourages high school students to communicate complex scientific concepts in a creative and engaging manner. While not exclusively focused on cancer research, participants can explore a wide range of scientific topics, including those related to cancer. The substantial scholarship and the chance to contribute to their school's science education make this competition an exciting opportunity for aspiring scientists and communicators. As deadlines and competition dates may vary, please check the Breakthrough Junior Challenge website for the most up-to-date information and application details.


More Cancer Opportunities For High School Students

A Polygence mentor can help guide you on your cancer project - whether you plan to enter a competition or are taking it on to explore your interests. Conducting research is a great way to learn more about engineering, and working with a research mentor who has expertise in the field, as well as the research process itself, is invaluable. Polygence’s Core program gives you this opportunity. In the program, middle and high school students are matched with a research mentor to complete a student-led research or passion project of their own.

Research and Prepare for your Competition or Fair

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own. Our highly-specialized mentors can help guide you to feel even more prepared for an upcoming fair or competion. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

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