Sparkathon 2024

SITC Sparkathon was inspired by a challenge grant from an anonymous donor whose generosity made this unique event possible.

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About Sparkathon

download pdf of application & eligibility criteria

Accepted applicants into this elite program will participate for free and receive reimbursement for eligible travel expenses to SITC Sparkathon.


SITC will select eligible, qualified early career scientists for the Sparkathon Class of 2024, which will focus on the topic of metabolism in tumor immunity. Applicants should be involved or interested in systemic, immune cell, cancer cell, and/or microbiome metabolism and its connection to cancer immunology.

The Sparkathon Class of 2024 will attend the Sparkathon program on March 12-14, 2024, in Miami, FL. Accepted participants will also convene at a second meeting on Nov. 5, 2024, prior to the society’s 39th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs (SITC 2024) in Houston, TX. 

Program Details, Goals & Outcomes

The Sparkathon 2024 class will benefit from meaningful collaborations within cancer immunotherapy and hear the latest research in a synergistic environment amongst peers and experts in the field. In addition, they will form connections across institutions that may serve them in future endeavors. The opportunity to connect with other Sparkathon classes each year at SITC’s Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs will create a broader network of early career scientists and offer more opportunity for cross-institutional collaboration.

  • Leadership. Development of leadership skills.
  • Communication. Enhancement of writing and presentation skills.
  • Mentorship. Establishment of continued mentorship from world-renowned faculty.
  • Science. Design and implementation of innovative projects that solve tangible problems in the applicant’s field.
  • Job search. Preparation for an academic job search.
  • Job. Better understanding of the challenges and responsibilities that new faculty face
  • Collaboration. Opportunity to form organic collaborations with peers and work cross-institutionally to efficiently create outcomes to enhance the field.
  • Network. 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.
  • Engagement. Emerging leaders may receive new, more visible leadership opportunities within the society.


    • Participants must be individuals who plan to transition from their mentored position to a full-time independent role in academia and industry within the next 1-2 years. It is desirable for 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 the SITC Annual Meeting, Spring Scientific 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.
    • Participants must complete and submit an application by 5:00 p.m. PDT Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. Complete applications will consist of: a. a cover letter; b. letter of recommendation from mentor; c. institutional letter of support; and d. a one-page NIH-formatted Specific Aims Page, and e. the applicant’s NIH biosketch. 
      • Applicants should exhibit dedication and research related to the 2024 Sparkathon topic, “Immunometabolism.”
      • Please review the complete application requirements and review criteria at the end of this document.
    • Participants must be available to attend the two-and-a-half-day in-person retreat from March 12-14, 2024, in Miami, FL. Participants will also meet again at the 2024 SITC Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs to participate in a one-day in-person program on Nov. 5, 2024, in Houston, TX.
      • Accepted applicants will participate for free in the Sparkathon 2024 program and receive travel and lodging reimbursement for the program.
      • Accepted applicants will also receive travel and lodging reimbursement for attending the one-day program before the 2024 SITC Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs.

Application Process

Sparkathon 2024 applications were due by Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

Applicants will be notified if they are accepted in December 2023.

Participants apply by completing an electronic application. Applications were due by Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. PDT. A dedicated review committee selected participants on a competitive basis. The selection process aims to obtain a balanced class with diverse representation across institutions. 

Review Criteria

The review committee will assess the following items for each candidate but will consider all other strengths and experiences emphasized in the applications. Items are listed by order of importance.

  • Likelihood of securing an independent position in the next 1-2 years
  • Dedication and research related to the 2024 Sparkathon topic; “immunometabolism”
  • Collaboration/team player (for example through co-authoring a paper)
  • Communication
  • Knowledge of and experience in cancer immunotherapy
  • Publications
  • Appointments/varied experience so far in career
  • Grants/awards received
  • Presentations given

*Priority will be given to applicants who reside in and are employed at an institution located in the United States. However, international applicants may be selected based on merit.

*In alignment with SITC’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan, the Sparkathon program aims to enhance diversity by increasing participation from underrepresented populations in the U.S. Biomedical Sciences according to the NIH Statement on Diversity. Priority will be given to qualified applicants who identify as an underrepresented group or from a diverse background based on self-reported data in the application.

“FANTASTIC program on so many levels - most importantly in the structured and sustainable way it brings together rising motivated diverse investigators in the field. Writing a paper together is a great way to keep the momentum of collaboration going.”
Teresa Kim, MD
University of Washington - School of Medicine
SITC Sparkathon Class of 2022


All components below must be uploaded to the electronic application system.

I. Cover Letter

  1. This document should state briefly:
    • Your interest in participating in the Sparkathon 2024 program
    • 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.)
    • Interest/passion for immunotherapy
    • How you stay current on trends in the field
    • Your qualifications
    • Career objectives and plan to obtain a faculty position in the next two years
    • 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
    • Description of current and future research
    • A description of current or proposed research in the area of immunometabolism

II. Letters of Support

  1. Mentor’s Statement of Support: This letter should be from individual acting as a fellowship mentor to the applicant. It must clearly present:
    • The applicant’s role and academic appointment(s)
    • The sponsor’s role in the proposed research, including plans to provide support as necessary
    • Plans and potential for the applicant to develop into an independently funded investigator
  2. Letter of Support from outside your institute:
    • The relationship with the applicant
    • The sponsor’s role in the proposed research, including plans to provide support as necessary
    • Plans and potential for the applicant to develop into an independently funded investigator

III. NIH-Formatted Specific Aims Page

  1. One page NIH-formatted Specific Aims page on your future work in the area of immunometabolism.

IV. Candidate's NIH Biosketch

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

Sparkathon Organizers

Greg Delgoffe, PhD


Greg M. Delgoffe, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

Jennifer L. Guerriero, PhD


Jennifer L. Guerriero, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Marco Ruella, MD


Marco Ruella, MD
University of Pennsylvania

Special Opportunity for Sparkathon Class of 2024

Spring Scientific LogoAccepted Sparkathon 2024 participants will be offered complimentary registration and are encouraged to attend the Spring Scientific: Metabolism at the Hub of Cancer and Immunity, taking place in Miami, FL and virtually on March 10-12, just prior to the Sparkathon program. Sparkathon participants will also be offered reimbursement for eligible additional hotel nights.


After participation in the Sparkathon 2024 program, emerging leaders will come together to create an alumni network to further their work, 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.

COVID-19 Measures

At SITC programs, our goal is to have a safe and meaningful in-person experience. SITC will refer to the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels to guide health precautions for in-person meetings. In addition, SITC strongly recommends that in-person meeting attendees take the following precautions:

  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Take a rapid COVID test prior to attending a meeting and do not attend in person if you test positive
  • Do not attend the meeting if you have symptoms that could be consistent with a “cold” or any other respiratory infection and leave the meeting if you develop such symptoms
  • Wear a mask in crowded indoor settings
  • Follow all health and safety protocols as required by SITC and local and state health departments
  • Review current CDC and applicable local guidance for protecting yourself from COVID-19

Attendees will have access to the meeting content online if they are unable to attend in person due to illness or a positive COVID test. For hybrid programs, attendees can change from in-person to online-only registration by contacting

Registered attendees will be notified in advance of any changes to precautions, recommendations or requirements for a SITC meeting.


Professional, responsible, ethical behavior is expected from participants throughout the Sparkathon 2024 program. With regard to the Sparkathon 2024 program, this includes active participation, meeting submission deadlines, being respectful and supportive of fellow members, adhering to a general code of ethics, and adhering to SITC’s Meeting Code of Conduct. Failure to adhere to the highest of ethical standards and other program requirements can result in possible termination from the project.