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Professional and Career Advancement Sessions


The AACR is dedicated to the education, training, and career advancement of cancer research investigators, and Professional Advancement Sessions are an integral part of the AACR Annual Meeting experience. These sessions are organized to provide important skills to investigators at all levels, from high school students to junior faculty. Programs for high school students and undergraduates require registration. All other Professional Advancement Sessions are available to Annual Meeting registrants free of charge, but attendance is limited to AACR members. Nonmember registrants are strongly encouraged to join the AACR and take advantage of the many benefits of membership, including access to these sessions.


Advance registration is only required for the Personalized Career Conversations session and the Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition. Participation in all other sessions is on a first-come, first-served basis, and space is limited.

For all other Professional Advancement Sessions, membership is required; attendance is free for AACR members with your Annual Meeting registration. Nonmembers are strongly encouraged to join the AACR and take advantage of the many benefits of membership, including access to these sessions.

Professional Advancement Series of sessions at the 2020 Annual Meeting

15th Annual Undergraduate Student Caucus and Poster Competition

Saturday, April 25, 2020, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 

With more than 200 undergraduate student participants every year, the Undergraduate Student Caucus Poster Competition continues to be the premier event for undergraduate students attending the AACR Annual Meeting. Now in its 15th year, this session gives undergraduates the opportunity to learn more about current research in the cancer field, hear from investigators about educational pathways and career development, explore career options in the cancer field, and compete for monetary prizes while presenting research. Undergraduates at all levels are welcome to participate without cost. AACR members are encouraged to volunteer as judges. 

Advancing Your Career in Cancer Research

Saturday, April 25, 2020, 5:30-7 p.m.

Organized by the Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, this Professional Advancement session will be a highly interactive round-table session in which experienced AACR members will share their views on different career opportunities in cancer research with interested early-career scientists. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with AACR members who have extensive experience and insight into the various career opportunities available to the next generation of researchers. The ability to have personal discussions with experts will enhance the knowledge base of young scientists and will provide them with potential opportunities for the next steps in their careers. Learn more.

Personalized Career Conversations 

Sunday, April 26, 2020, 5-7 p.m.; Pre-registration required

Organized by the Associate Member Council (AMC), Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Science Education and Career Advancement Committee (SECAC), and Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council, this session provides a unique opportunity for early-career AACR Associate members to participate in 15-minute one-on-one conversations with two distinguished cancer researchers from across various sectors—including academia, government and industry. Participants will also have the opportunity to informally network with peers and members from the organizing groups to gain additional perspectives about various career topics. There is no cost to participate, but preregistration is required. Learn more.

The Critical Role of Physician-Scientists in Advancing Cancer Science – Recommendations for Continued Success

Sunday, April 26, 2020, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

This interactive panel discussion, organized by the Science Education and Career Advancement Committee (SECAC), will explore the critical role of physician-scientists and strategies for their continued success in the face of increasing competitiveness in all domains of their professional service—scientific, clinical, educational, and administrative. The session will offer key insights and pointers from a diverse group of successful physician-scientists on career development and funding mechanisms as well as perspectives from a cancer center director. Learn more.

Navigating the Path to a Successful Career in Cancer Research

Monday, April 27, 2020, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This exciting collaborative round-table session and networking reception organized by the Associate Member Council (AMC), Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Science Education and Career Advancement Committee (SECAC), and Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council provides a forum in which students, early-career researchers, and early-stage investigators can discuss critical career development topics and survival skills with established researchers from a variety of sectors, including academia, government, and industry. This session is a must for all individuals pursuing careers in cancer research or other biomedical sciences.

Special Program for High School Students: The Conquest of Cancer and the Next Generation of Cancer Researchers     

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

This engaging and interactive program is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in cancer research and biomedical sciences by providing an opportunity for them to learn about cancer from cancer research experts while interacting with their peers. The program includes lectures, tours of the exhibits and poster areas, student presentations, and a networking lunch. AACR members are encouraged to volunteer as mentors.

NEW: Important Strategies for Success in Cancer Science: Keys for Early-Stage Investigators

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 5-6:30 p.m.

The AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee is excited to offer this unique opportunity for new investigators at the junior faculty/equivalent level to learn skills and strategies for addressing questions that can affect their success in the first independent leadership position. Designed specifically for those who have already made the transition from trainee to the next career stage inside and outside academia, this is a must-attend session for all early-stage investigators.

NEW: Communication Skills for Cancer Researchers

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 5-6:30 p.m.

The AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee is proud to offer a new session for investigators at all career stages to discuss ways to efficiently and effectively communicate science to different audiences—both peers and the public. As specific communication skills are rarely directly addressed during the trainee setting, this Professional Advancement Session will introduce participants to the basic components of effective and concise communication while also defining the difference between “scientific” and “science” communications.

Additional Career Advancement Opportunities 

Meet the Mentor: Undergraduate Focus

Date and time to be announced

This session features esteemed senior scientists who will engage undergraduate students in informal discussions about cancer research. The session is intended to help guide students in their efforts to establish a career in cancer research. All undergraduate student attendees at the Annual Meeting are encouraged to participate.

Meet the Research Icon: A Dialogue with Associate Members

Monday, April 27, 2020, 10:00-10:45 a.m.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 10:00-10:45 a.m.

These informal chats will allow Associate Members to have up-close-and-personal time with renowned senior researchers in a small-group setting to meet, interact, and gain career advice. These sessions are free and do not require preregistration; however, participation is limited to Associate Members. 

Career Discussions 

Monday, April 27, 2020, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

These informal networking and discussion sessions are designed for early-career researchers to interact with recently transitioned physician-scientist and junior faculty/equivalent peers around various career topics such as “Searching for the Right Postdoctoral Position.” Additional topics for 2020 will be announced shortly. All sessions take place in AACR Central Amphitheater with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Meet the Editors-in-Chief

Dates and times to be announced

The editors-in-chief of AACR journals will hold informational sessions to share their editorial vision and to answer author-related inquiries. These sessions will be held in the Publications Booth (#2005) in the Exhibit Hall.