During the last 18 months of the training period, the fellowship program provides a focused research experience in the area of the fellow's interest in laboratory, clinical and population-based cancer research. Research mentors are usually members of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, but may also be Columbia faculty members in the many other divisions of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

During their first year, fellows identify research mentors and begin to formulate ideas for projects. In the first months of their second year, fellows begin an intensive course on the research process and grant-writing. The course requires each fellow to write a grant in the format of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award applications. These are 5-page proposals organized into Hypothesis, Specific Aims, Background, and Experimental Plan. Fellows write one section each week. At Wednesday morning meetings each fellow presents his section to a group of faculty members who have a track record in obtaining peer-reviewed funding. At the end of the summer fellows have the foundation of a 5-page application that can be submitted for various awards with application deadlines in the fall of their second year of training.

During the second year fellows begin to participate in research meetings relevant to their research projects including Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center monthly program meetings, seminars in their respective area of interest, and, in the case of those with basic science projects, laboratory meetings of their mentors. Participation in projects is begun during the second year.