CaRES Program Background Information

The “parent” grant of the CaRES program is UAB’s Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program (CPCTP), still active today.  Since 1988 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has funded the CPCTP through its R25 mechanism to support post-doctoral fellows and doctoral students to do cancer research. The CPCTP’s founding Director was Dr. Richard Windsor (Health Behavior) and the founding Co-Director was Dr. Douglas Heimburger (Nutrition Sciences).  With Dr. Windsor’s departure from UAB in 1991 Dr. Heimburger became Director and Dr. John Waterbor (Epidemiology) became Associate Director. With Dr. Heimburger’s departure in 2009 Dr. Tim Nagy (Nutrition Sciences) became Interim Director.  The CPCTP is now directed by Dr. Karen Meneses (Nursing) and Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried (Nutrition Sciences and Comprehensive Cancer Center) while Dr. Waterbor continues as Associate Director.  Since 1988 Dr. C. Michael Brooks (Health Professions) has served as Evaluation Director.  Over the years, the CPCTP has flourished because the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), School of Medicine, and School of Public Health have recruited many faculty members who conduct cancer prevention and control research.

From 1988 through 1998 a small portion of the CPCTP budget supported eight or nine student interns per summer to undertake short cancer research projects, with a total of 77 students supported over these 11 years.  These interns were first-year medical students and public health graduate students who devoted a standard term of 8 weeks to cancer research under the guidance of UAB faculty preceptors. A few students served as interns in two or more summers. 

In the course of recruiting summer interns it became clear that the CPCTP could not take full advantage of the rich short-term cancer research opportunities available at UAB. The CCC’s Cancer Education Committee (CEC) stated that we were not aggressive enough in providing cancer research training opportunities for UAB students, and so the CEC recommended that we seek additional training grant funding to meet the demand. This recommendation led to the submission of a cancer research training grant proposal for the “CaRES” (Cancer Research Experiences for Students) program.  CaRES replaced the "summer interns" portion of the CPCTP in summer 1999.  CaRES is now in its 17th year, and is funded through August 2020.  In summer 2016 CaRES began the current 5-year grant, with several enhancements to the program:

  1. Eligible students:  In addition to UAB medical students and graduate public health students, medical students from the University of South Alabama (USA), veterinary medicine students and pharmacy students from Auburn University; and pharmacy students and public health students from Samford University, are now eligible for CaRES
  2. Additional performance site:  While almost all projects will be done at UAB, two or more CaRES projects can be done at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, a nationally and internationally acclaimed institute for the study of genomics
  3. Enhanced curriculum:  we have expanded our CaRES Seminar Series to offer more contact hours for discussion of career development topics, more lectures on the Responsible Conduct of Research; and more time for CaRES student presentations
  4. Mentoring contract:  we have replaced our CaRES student-preceptor agreement form with a stronger mentoring contract that ensures that all CaRES projects will be completed efficiently and in such a way that maximizes the learning of each student
  5. Program faculty and staff:  Dr. Peter Smith (UAB School of Medicine) joins Dr. John Waterbor as a program director; Dr. Allison Litton is added as Assistant Evaluation Director; and Daniel Camburn becomes website administrator.  Dr. Renee Desmond remains Associate Director, and Judy Baker remains Internship Coordinator.

The long-term goal of CaRES is to motivate participating students to pursue careers in cancer research.  The short-term goals are to provide participating students with the support needed to gain meaningful cancer research experience under the guidance of UAB faculty members; and to provide UAB cancer researchers with capable and dedicated students who can enhance their research productivity.  The only cost to the preceptors is the time and the expertise that they are expected to share with their CaRES students.  Throughout the history of CaRES the vast majority of participating students and faculty members have been very pleased with the program, as documented in our annual evaluation reports submitted to NCI, with summaries posted on our website. The table below presents the numbers of cancer research projects and student interns supported by CaRES. Some projects were done by two students and a few were done by three students.  In 2004 no interns were supported due to a temporary gap in funding.

CaRES SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROJECTS AND INTERNS, SUMMERS 1999 - 2016

SUMMER

NUMBER OF FUNDED CaRES PROJECTS

NUMBER OF CaRES  INTERNS SUPPORTED

1999

16

16

2000

18

20

2001

27

33

2002

44

56

2003

21

28

2005

45

58

2006

35

42

2007

38

48

2008

35

43

2009

31

41

2010

29

32

2011

34

43

2012

32

43

2013

33

43

2014

33

44

2015

15

15

2016

41

41

TOTAL

         527

          646

 

UPDATED JANUARY 18, 2017