36GP – Physical Activity as Effect Modifier of the Association between Obesity and Cancer

Status: Filled – Intern: Sheila Mallenahalli
Intern: Sheila Mallenahalli
Faculty Name: gregory-pavela
UAB Department: Health Behavior
UAB School: Public Health
Campus Address: 227K
Telephone Number: (205) 934-6032
Email: pavela@uab.edu or Click to Send E-Mail
For how many summers have you served as a preceptor: 0
CCC Research Area: Cancer Control and Population Science
Number of hours per week that the preceptor will personally supervise or work with the intern: 4
Other faculty, staff, or graduate students who may help to supervise the intern:
1. Ms. Julie Brown
2. Kathryn Kaiser
Title of Project: 36GP – Physical Activity as Effect Modifier of the Association between Obesity and Cancer
Project Description:

Increased body fatness is associated with an increased risk of many cancers whereas physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of many cancers. While some of the association between physical activity and a reduced risk of cancer may be due to physically active individuals being leaner, on average, than sedentary individuals, physical activity likely exerts benefits beyond its effects on weight. The protective benefits of physical activity may be greater for obese individuals as some of the hypothesized mechanisms linking obesity to cancer, including adipokines and insulin resistance, are affected by physical activity. This project will thus determine whether the association between obesity and cancer is modified by physical activity, with the hypothesis that the cancer-protective benefits of physical activity will be greater in obese individuals. We will test this hypothesis using data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of US adults aged 51 and older.

Project Status: Will begin on or before the CaRES student’s start date
Location of Project: Birmingham, AL (UAB)
Proposed Start Date: May 4, 2020
Proposed End Date: July 24, 2020
Expected work schedule for intern: Flexible, intern can largely set his or her own schedule (as for students who are instructed how to proceed and are permitted to work independently with weekly guidance) and should contribute full-time effort.
Category of Project: Analytical/Statistical Research
Cancer topic: Multiple Cancer Sites
Does this project involve human subjects: No
Does this project involve animal subjects: No

Download and clean data (create and rename variables, identify missing data). Data will come from the RAND Longitudinal Data File, which is already a fairly clean and easy-to-use dataset. As part of downloading and cleaning data, you will be expected to create and manage the folders necessary to organize the project’s activity, with guidance from the preceptor.


Using the cleaned dataset, produce summary statistics to identify potential issues with the data and conduct bivariate analyses to understand associations between variables.


Create a poster summarizing the results produced in Duty 2, in addition to results from regression analyses conducted by the Preceptor (and by the intern in close collaboration with the Preceptor).

Preceptor will provide intern with access to the following:
Office or desk space, Computer and printer
Likelihood that intern will be included as an author on one or more publications
related to this summer research project:
Very likely
Areas in which the ideal candidates will have experience:
Obesity and Diet, SAS Programming, Statistics and Data Management advanced