Cancer Immunotherapy Journalism and Mentoring Fellowship

Call for Applications





This program seeks to increase the working journalistic knowledge of cancer immunotherapies, their science and the trajectories of their development in Canada.


It will provide an opportunity for one experienced journalist and one Masters of Journalism student (or recent graduates, hereafter called student) to learn and produce stories related to cancer immunotherapy, the science behind them and the context in which they are being developed for clinical trials in Canada.


The program will also provide a concrete mentoring opportunity between the selected student and the senior journalist. As a team, the fellows will work collaboratively to produce a suite of stories related to the patient impact, the science and the business of cancer biotherapeutics development in Canada.


Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer


BioCanRx is a not-for-profit network with a mission to accelerate the most promising cancer immunotherapies from the lab into clinical trials. BioCanRx funds research in a way that requires that it be partnered and collaborative. BioCanRx also has a mandate to facilitate multidisciplinary training in order to foster the development and knowledge of cancer biotherapeutics in Canada.


Early results from cancer immunotherapies have been generating excitement about their potential to make significant gains in outcomes for patients. With that excitement comes great expectations, and with great expectations comes responsible reporting of advances in the biomedical science.


For today’s mainstream journalist there is a move toward generalist reporting and cross-platform delivery, which results in demands that make it increasingly difficult to specialize in health and biomedical science reporting. It is also difficult to find quality opportunities for training and mentoring in specialty reporting.


BioCanRx, in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Cancer Research, is providing this opportunity to help address these gaps in the current journalistic working environment and apply them to an exciting field that demands responsible reporting. This program aims to increase capacity of health, biomedical and biotechnology reporting, while also providing skills applicable to other fields of science.


Program deliverables


The team (one senior journalist and one student) will be formed from the highest-ranking individual applications and will work together to produce a suite of journalistic stories about cancer immunotherapies, their science and their development in Canada. These stories will be produced with the expectation that they be submitted for publication, posting or broadcast by the senior journalist’s employer, understanding that they are subject to the standard editorial policies of the senior journalist’s employer. These stories may also be posted on the BioCanRx website, subject to its editorial process.


The stories proposed in the applications are expected to vary in format (e.g., daily news, feature format, blog, in-depth, event reporting) and subject matter (e.g., patient impact, scientific advances, clinical trials, biotechnology product development).


The time period for the production of the stories will wrap around the Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy, a 4-day scientific conference hosted by BioCanRx in Gatineau, Quebec, from June 25-28, 2017. The publishing of these stories is expected by September 30, 2017. The Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy will bring together international and Canadian leaders in immunotherapy to share knowledge about the advances in the field.


The fellows will also be required to submit a short report about their program experience, assessing the skills and knowledge they acquired, how the program could be improved and how well it worked.


The Fellowship


Senior Journalist (One to be chosen)
The senior journalist will be awarded $8,000 to provide a month (20 working days) of protected time dedicated to fulfilling the requirements of this project. The journalist will obtain a commitment from his or her affiliated news organization to publish, post or broadcast stories produced by the journalist and the student, understanding that stories must meet the organization’s standard editorial policies and practices. The journalist will work closely with and advise the student to research and produce a suite of stories proposed in the applications. The journalist will also be expected to produce his or her own stories for publication, posting or broadcast. The journalist will hold regular team meetings (or calls) to discuss story progress. The journalist will liaise with a BioCanRx representative regarding progress. The journalist will attend the Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy with the student. The conference registration fee will be waived and the journalist’s travel expenses, if required, will be reimbursed according to BioCanRx travel policies.


Student Journalist (One to be chosen)
The student journalist will be awarded $2,000 to spend a month (20 working days) researching and producing stories related to cancer biotherapies and their development in Canada, as agreed upon with the senior journalist. The senior journalist will provide guidance to and work collaboratively with the student to produce the agreed-upon stories, which will be submitted for publication or broadcast. The student journalist will attend the Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy with the senior journalist. The conference registration fee will be waived and the student’s travel expenses, if required, will be reimbursed according to BioCanRx travel policies.




Senior journalist

  • At least 10 years of experience in journalism
  • Currently working as a journalist in Canada
  • Has a track record of reporting on fields relevant to this fellowship, such as health, medicine, biomedical science and biotechnology


Student Journalist

  • Must be enrolled in a Master’s of Journalism program during the 2015-2016 or 2016-2017 academic years, OR as a fourth year undergraduate journalism student in 2016-2017
  • Has a demonstrated desire to report on fields relevant to this fellowship, such as health, medicine, biomedical science and biotechnology


Learning objectives
1. To gain knowledge about:

  • cancer immunotherapy science and advances
  • biotherapeutic development in Canada
  • Canada’s biotechnology sector
  • translational biomedical research
  • social and economic impacts of cancer biotherapeutics
  • reporting on clinical trials


2. To gain experience:

  • producing responsible scientific reporting of a field that is viewed with high expectations
  • developing relationships with patients, researchers, and representatives from the industry and charity sectors
  • understanding what is and is not appropriate to report upon
  • reporting on an event


3. To share knowledge of journalistic experience and skills among team members


4. To expand the team’s network of contacts who have expertise related to cancer immunotherapies, clinical trials, and biotherapeutics development in Canada


Application process


Fill out the application form, available here. Please submit it, along with the required supporting documents, electronically to Jovian Tsang, Manager of HQP Training Programs for BioCanRx, via by 9:00 PM EST on May 5, 2017.


A panel consisting of working and former journalists, journalism professors, and representatives of the partner organizations will review the applications.


Candidates will be informed of the competition results by May 25, 2017.


Please note: This document has used the term “news organization” and “employer” to identify the organization with which the senior journalist is affiliated and which would publish, post or broadcast the team’s work. However, it is understood that the landscape for providing journalistic content to the public is varied and senior journalists working in alternative structures may apply, as long as the goals of the program can be fulfilled.


Application Form