What is CaRES?

CaRES is the Cancer Research Experiences for Students program that provides paid summer cancer research internships for medical students, veterinary medicine students, pharmacy students, dental students, graduate nursing students, graduate nutrition sciences students, and graduate public health students.  All CaRES projects are done on the UAB campus in Birmingham, or at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.  CaRES is funded by a generous research training grant (5R25 CA076023) from the National Cancer Institute and has supported almost 800 students since its initial funding in 1999.  Due to federal funding policies only American citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible to participate in CaRES.

CaRES Preceptors are UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) faculty members who are actively engaged in cancer research.  Each February these faculty members are invited to submit cancer research project descriptions to the CaRES website.  Eligible students schedule interviews with the preceptors of all projects in which they have serious interest and for which they feel well-prepared considering their academic background and research experience.  Each faculty member who posts a project description interviews as many students as he or she wishes, then selects the student whose background and experience fit best with their research program.  Once a faculty member and a student have agreed to work with one another, each of them emails CaRES Program Director Dr. John Waterbor (h2obor@uab.edu) to commit to working together.  The student must provide Dr. Waterbor his or her CV so that program eligibility can be verified. The first 40 or more “self-matches” are funded to do CaRES projects.  Typically, all CaRES Interns are selected by early March although CaRES projects are done in the summer. 

CaRES Interns are students who participate in the CaRES program.  Recruitment of qualified minority students is emphasized.  High school students and undergraduate students are ineligible unless they hold a letter of acceptance from the UAB School of Medicine or UAB Graduate School as an incoming student.  Students may participate as CaRES Interns in two summers.

CaRES Internships are typically done in the summer following the first year of academic study but may be done in the summer prior to beginning medical school or graduate school.  All CaRES projects are done for 8 – 12 weeks (as negotiated between intern and preceptor) and must start and end within a designated period in the summer.  In 2020, all CaRES projects must be done within the 17-week window May 4 – August 24.  A Mentoring Contract is completed by each Intern-Preceptor pair before the summer begins, so that each Intern will know what is expected of him or her regarding project completion.  Each CaRES Intern will be fully paid upon completion of his or her project and all evaluation surveys. 

CaRES Seminar Series is held each summer for the professional education and career development of CaRES Interns.  In summer 2020 there will be approximately 8 hours of didactic presentations on the Responsible Conduct of Research (including lectures on the protection of human subjects, appropriate handling of research data, and avoiding conflicts of interest), and on career development topics such as preparing presentations and posters, and publishing research in peer-reviewed journals.  Online assignments in RCR will be required.

CaRES Poster Day will be scheduled for a day in July when all CaRES Interns will present posters describing their research methods and findings to their fellow Interns and to CaRES program faculty and staff.  CaRES pays for poster printing and students may keep their posters for later presentation at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Annual Research Retreat, on UAB Medical Student Research Day, or at other conferences at UAB or at our affiliated universities.  In addition, CaRES students are encouraged to present their research at local, regional, or national professional conferences.  Funds are available from CaRES for travel, per diem, and conference registration for a limited number of CaRES students to present their research off-campus within one year following the CaRES summer experience.  

CaRES Travel Award of approximately $1000 is given each summer to the CaRES student who presents the poster judged to be the best on CaRES Poster Day.  This travel award must be used within one year to attend a conference of the student’s choice.  All expenditures must be approved by Program Directors Dr. Peter Smith and Dr. John Waterbor and by Internship Coordinator Ms. Judy Baker.    

CaRES Program Evaluation is necessary for continued receipt of funding from NCI . . . and for the continuous improvement of the CaRES program.  As CaRES projects are completed near summer’s end, all Interns and Preceptors are required to complete exit evaluation questionnaires that measure their satisfaction with the CaRES program and probe for suggestions to improve CaRES.  In addition, CaRES longitudinally tracks all Interns for a minimum of five years after internship completion in order to record career choices, citations of peer-reviewed publications, cancer research findings, and cancer-related clinical and service activities.  CaRES Interns are asked to provide their current and anticipated future contact information, as well as contact information for parents, other relatives, or close friends, who will always know their whereabouts and are willing to forward our requests for career information.  

Questions should be addressed to Program Director John W. Waterbor, MD, DrPH, at the UAB School of Public Health (205-934-7146; h2obor@uab.edu; Ryals Building – 227C).