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Odyssey Program


The mission of the Odyssey Program is to support the best individuals among the newest generation of cancer researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center and encourage them to explore novel areas of clinical, translational basic or population-based cancer research and to take advantage of the resources offered by our Institution. The Odyssey Program supports the training and research efforts of dedicated scientists at the beginning of their careers in cancer research and promotes their interaction with colleagues.

The Odyssey Program sponsors outstanding postdoctoral fellows who wish to pursue innovative cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Competitions for these awards take place once a year. Odyssey Fellow awardees receive a maximum of three years of support for their salaries and other expenses. They work at MD Anderson in a stimulating environment that helps them prepare for a successful, independent career in cancer research.

Program Overview

Odyssey Fellows must have a doctoral degree (Ph.D., M.D., D.Phil. or equivalent), and the degree must have been conferred within two years before funding starts. To be eligible to apply, applicants must either have an appointment at MD Anderson, or have been offered an appointment by a member of the faculty of MD Anderson and plan to take the position before or at the time funding starts (September 1).

Odyssey Fellows will receive salary support and fringe benefits from the Odyssey Program at a minimum of the NIH NRSA rates. When funds allow, salary will be provided at a rate of 20% above NIH NRSA rates. A research allowance of up to $5,000 per year will be provided to each Odyssey Fellow for the purchase of supplies and small equipment, as well as for travel to scientific meetings in the continental U.S., when sufficient funds are available.

Fellows are appointed for one year, with two one-year renewals possible and dependent upon satisfactory progress as assessed by an annual progress report. All fellowship years start September 1 and end August 31 of the following year.

Odyssey Program Advisory Committee

Proposals are reviewed and scored by the Odyssey Program Advisory Committee.

Current members include:

  • Heath Skinner, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncology, Chair
  • Marites Melacon, Ph.D., Co-Chair
  • Chengming Zhu, Ph.D., Immunology
  • Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., Molecular Carcinogenesis
  • Willem Overwijk, Ph.D., Melanoma Med. Onc. - Research
  • Bradley McIntyre, Ph.D., Immunology
  • Dean Lee, M.D., Ph.D., Pediatics - Patient Care
  • Kenneth Tsai, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatology
  • Xuetong Shen, Ph.D., Molecular Carcinogenesis
  • Min Gyu Lee, Ph.D., Molecular & Cellular Oncology
  • Curtis R. Pickering, Ph.D., Head & Neck Surgery - Research
  • Swathi Arur, Ph.D., Genetics
  • Li Ma, Ph.D., Experimental Radiation Oncology
  • Lan Pham, Ph.D., Hematopathology - Research
  • Patricia Parker, Ph.D., Behavioral Science
  • Francesca Cole Bergemann, Ph.D., Molecular Carcinogenesis
  • Laura Beretta, Ph.D., Molecular & Cellular Oncology
  • Leslie Krushel, Ph.D., Translational Molecular Pathology

Members are listed in the order in which they joined the committee. They serve for three years. Additional faculty may be requested to participate in application review on an ad hoc basis as necessary.

Application Dates

  • Request for applications published: January
  • Deadline for applications: end of February (Please refer to email notification for deadline)
  • Applicants notified of outcome: May/June
  • Funding start date: September 1

Application Process

To apply for Odyssey Fellowship please:

  1. Download and read the Odyssey Program Application Guidelines (pdf).
  2. Download and complete the Odyssey Fellowship Application Form (doc).
  3. Download the Odyssey Fellowship Application Mentor Letter Form (doc) and give it to your mentor/advisor.

Following the instructions in the application guidelines, prepare a single PDF document containing all the necessary elements and e-mail it to by the deadline, midnight end of February (please note date may change, refer to email notification for correct date). Please note that all e-mails are time-stamped and late submissions will not be accepted.

For a complete description of the program, please refer to the Program Guidelines (pdf)

Odyssey Recruitment Fellowship

Faculty are invited to submit an application to the Odyssey Program to supplement an existing offer with an additional 20% salary above NIH-scale and $5,000 a year research allowance for up to three years, when recruiting highly promising post-doctoral candidates, who are actively also considering a competing laboratory. If the application is approved, and the recruitment succeeds the fellow will enter the Odyssey Program as they join MD Anderson, and continue to be supported by the faculty’s core salary funds plus the Odyssey supplements for their three years in the Program.

Applications will be reviewed by the Program Director and the Odyssey Advisory Committee within two weeks of submission. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. There is a limit of one Odyssey Recruitment Fellowship award per mentor/laboratory per fiscal/academic year, but no limit on applications from a mentor/laboratory. The fellowships will be awarded on a first come basis, and when the funds for a given year are committed, no further applications can be considered until the next fiscal year. Please enquire whether funds are available by sending an email to, before submitting the application.

The prospective mentor submits the application for the Odyssey Recruitment Fellowship by e-mailing the following documents to :

  1. The CV of the post-doctoral candidate.
  2. Two reference letters for the post-doctoral candidate from faculty outside the institution.
  3. A supporting letter from the mentor containing:        

        a.     A statement about the significance of this recruitment to the mentor’s research program
        b.     A brief project synopsis that includes statements about the innovation and impact of the project in the area of cancer research
        c.     A training plan for the applicant – if the applicant has no background in cancer research this plan needs to include proposed training in aspects of cancer research – the goal of the Odyssey Program is to train the next generation of cancer researchers
        d.     A statement about which other institutions/laboratories the post-doctoral candidate is being recruited by
        e.     A statement describing the source of funds for the post-doctoral candidates core salary for the three years they will be in the Odyssey Program – the Odyssey Program will only provide the +20% salary support & $5,000 research allowance for Recruitment Fellowships        

Annual Symposium

The Odyssey Symposium is held each year at MD Anderson, usually in June. All Odyssey Fellows are expected to participate in the symposium.

Current and Past Recipients

View a list of current and past recipients of the Odyssey Program awards.

Newsletter: Odyssey - A Journey of Discovery 

Contact Information

Specific questions regarding the MD Anderson Cancer Center Odyssey Program can be directed to:

Oliver Bogler, Ph.D.

Sr. VP Academic Affairs
Professor of Neurosurgery
Phone: 713-792 0873

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center