Odyssey Program


The Odyssey Program sponsors outstanding postdoctoral fellows who wish to pursue innovative cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Its mission is to support the training and research efforts of scientists at the beginning of their careers; to encourage scientists to explore novel areas of clinical, translational, basic or population-based cancer research; and to give participants the opportunity to take advantage of the resources offered by the institution.

Competition takes place annually for the Odyssey Program awards. Odyssey Fellows 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 career in cancer research.

Program Overview

Odyssey Fellows must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent), and the degree must have been conferred within two years before funding starts. To be eligible to apply, applicants must have either an appointment at MD Anderson or the offer of an appointment by a member of the faculty of MD Anderson, and they must plan to take the position before or at the time funding starts (Sept. 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 United States, 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 Sept. 1 and end Aug. 31 of the following year.

Odyssey Program Advisory Committee

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

Current members include:

  • Marites Melancon, PhD, Interventional Radiology, Chair
  • Li Ma, PhD, Experimental Radiation Oncology, Co-Chair
  • Xuetong Shen, PhD, Molecular Carcinogenesis
  • Min Gyu Lee, PhD, Molecular & Cellular Oncology
  • Curtis R. Pickering, PhD, Head & Neck Surgery - Research
  • Swathi Arur, PhD, Genetics
  • Lan Pham, PhD, Hematopathology - Research
  • Francesca Cole Bergemann, PhD, Molecular Carcinogenesis
  • Laura Beretta, PhD, Molecular & Cellular Oncology
  • Leslie Krushel, PhD, Translational Molecular Pathology
  • Richard Bouchard, PhD, Imaging Physics
  • Chun Li, PhD, Cancer Systems Imaging
  • Ken Chen, PhD, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
  • Michelle Hildebrandt, PhD, Epidemiology
  • Tomasz Zal, PhD, Immunology
  • Menashe Bar Eli, PhD, Cancer Biology

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 specific deadline)
  • Applicants notified of outcome: May-June
  • Funding start date: Sept. 1

Application Process

To apply for the Odyssey Program fellowship, please do the following:

  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 email it to odyssey@mdanderson.org before the deadline (refer to email notification for specific date). Please note that all emails are time-stamped. Late submissions will not be accepted.

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

Annual Symposium

The Odyssey Symposium is held each year at MD Anderson Cancer Center, 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 Odyssey Program can be directed to odyssey@mdanderson.org.