SITC Sparkathon Application Process

Participants apply by completing an electronic application and having their supporters/mentors and supervisors submit the appropriate letters and forms via email to SITC. The application deadline closed at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. A dedicated review committee will select participants on a competitive basis. The selection process aims to obtain a balanced class with diverse representation across institutions.


  1. Emerging leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy must be a SITC student member in good standing, or a SITC regular member in good standing who has received their PhD within the last eight years or their MD within the last 12 years. Emerging leaders in convergent fields such as physical science, systems biology and statistics, should consider joining SITC although membership is not mandatory. It is desirable for all applicants to have had some involvement with SITC; for example applicants can have received a SITC award or fellowship; submitted an abstract; attended a SITC educational event such as an Annual Meeting, interim workshop or collaborative program; created or updated their profile on the SITC Connect website, posted on a discussion board on the SITC CONNECT website; utilized SITC’s online resources; provided feedback to SITC in some way such as responding to a survey; etc. This is not an exhaustive list.
  2. Must complete and submit an application by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 18, 2018. Complete applications will consist of a cover letter, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, a signed letter of support from a supervisor/institution representative, and a CV.
    1. Review the complete application requirements and review criteria at the end of this document.
  3. Must be available to attend the in-person retreat from Sept. 12 – 14, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois.
    1. SITC will arrange participants’ complimentary hotel accommodation, will provide reimbursement for participants’ travel and meals, and will provide complimentary registration to the 2019 SITC Annual Meeting.
  4. Must have commitment from employer to support your salary for duration of program, to support your time commitment requirements and to support cross-institution collaboration.
  5. Preference is given to applicants who reside in and are employed at an institution located in the United States. SITC Sparkathon will accept a limited number of international applicants.

Time Commitment

To ensure active participation by all participants, a tracking tool will monitor the number of entries to the online discussion board, submission of monthly reporting form, and time log for the duration of the project. Time requirements are as follows:

  • Submission of at least one entry to online discussion board per month
  • Input in each monthly report submission
  • Approximately four hours of active participation per month

Program Outcomes

  • Participants will have the opportunity to develop their skills as leaders and receive mentorship.
  • Design and implementation of innovative projects that solve tangible problems in the field.
  • Teams will work cross-institutionally to efficiently create outcomes for the good of the field.
  • A dynamic network of cancer immunotherapy professionals – formed to further individual professional development and foster collaborations across institutions and work settings.
  • SITC Sparkathon participants and alumni will develop affinity amongst their peers and the broader society.
  • Emerging leaders may receive new, more visible leadership opportunities within the society.
  • Emerging leaders and mentors will form informal communication loops

Professional Ethics

Professional, responsible, ethical behavior is expected from participants throughout the SITC Sparkathon project. With regard to the SITC Sparkathon, this includes active participation, meeting submission deadlines, being respectful and supportive of fellow members and adhering to a general code of ethics. Failure to adhere to the highest of ethical standards and other program requirements can result in possible termination from the project.

SITC Sparkathon Network Alumni

After participation in the SITC Sparkathon program, emerging leaders will come together to create an alumni network to further their project, make new and strengthen existing connections, and serve as a resource for subsequent classes. This network will facilitate collaborations among members and, as demonstrated leaders, members may be considered for future society leadership opportunities, including high profile committee and Board service.

Complete Application Requirements and Review Criteria

A candidate’s cover letter, statement of purpose and CV must be uploaded to the electronic application system. A candidate’s letters of recommendation and Institution Statement of Support must be emailed from the supporters to

  1. Cover Letter
    • This document should state briefly:

      • Your interest in participating in the SITC Sparkathon

      • Your involvement with SITC and/or the field of cancer immunotherapy (such as through a committee; receipt of a Presidential Travel Award or the Presidential Award; awardee of a SITC fellowship; submission of an abstract; attending a SITC educational event such as an Annual Meeting, interim workshop or collaborative program; creating or updating your profile on the SITC CONNECT website; posting on a discussion board on the SITC website; using SITC’s online resources; providing feedback to SITC in some way such as responding to a survey; etc.)

  2. Letters of Support
    • Two Letters of Recommendation

      The letters should be from the program director, division or department chair, or supervisor, sponsoring the candidate for their participation in the SITC Sparkathon. The letters must clearly present:

      • The career objectives of the applicant toward cancer immunotherapy research

      • The program’s placement within the institution and any interdisciplinary activities

      • Candidate’s role and academic appointment

      • Qualities, skills, and other attributes that demonstrate the applicant’s propensity for success in participating in the SITC Sparkathon.

    • Institution Statement of Support

      The pre-crafted Statement of Support.pdf must be signed and submitted by the candidate’s supervisor or representative from their institution. The Statement of Support outlines the institution’s and/or supervisor’s responsibilities for commitment and support of:

      • Salary for duration of program

      • Time commitment requirements of participant (four hours per month)

      • Cross-institution collaboration during the time frame of program

Please instruct your supporters and supervisor/institution representative to submit their letters of recommendation and signed statement of support directly to

  1. Applicant’s Statement of Purpose
    • This statement should specify:

      • Interest/passion for immunotherapy

      • How you stay current on trends in the field

      • Your qualifications

      • Career objectives

      • What makes you a creative problem solver and innovator

      • Any additional information that will enhance your application and/or address the review committee’s selected review criteria outlined in section IV.

  2. Review Criteria
    • The review committee will assess the following items for each candidate but will take into account all other strengths and experiences emphasized in the applications.

      • Collaboration/team player (for example through co-authoring a paper)

      • Communication

      • Business/industry knowledge or experience (for example, through experience in your institution’s tech transfer office)

      • Knowledge of and experience in cancer immunotherapy

      • Publications

      • Appointments/varied experience so far in career

      • Grants/awards received

      • Presentations given

  3. Candidates Curriculum Vitae      

The CV must include a history of applicant’s training, publications and full disclosure of all grants or awards currently received or pending.

All application materials due by 11:59 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

View the SITC Meeting Code of Conduct.