CaRES History


CaRES Program Background Information

The “parent” grant of the CaRES program is UAB’s Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program (CPCTP), funded for 30 years (1988-2017) by the National Cancer Institute’s R25T program.  The primary mission of the CPCTP was to support post-doctoral fellows and doctoral students to do cancer research. The founding Director was the late 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 from UAB in 2009, Dr. Tim Nagy (Nutrition Sciences) became Interim Director.  From 2012-2017, the CPCTP was directed by the late Dr. Karen Meneses (Nursing) and Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried (Nutrition Sciences) while Dr. Waterbor continued as Associate Director.  For all 30 years, from 1988-2017, Dr. C. Michael Brooks (Health Professions) served as Evaluation Director.  Over the years, the CPCTP flourished because the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), School of Medicine, and School of Public Health recruited many faculty members who conducted cancer prevention and control research. With the demise of NCI’s R25T program in 2017, new funding for the CPCTP was obtained through NCI’s T32 mechanism.  

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 summers.  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 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.  Now in its 20th year, CaRES is funded by an “R25E” grant, through August 2020.  In summer 2016 CaRES began the current 5-year grant, with these enhancements:

  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, became eligible for CaRES.  Several other universities have been invited to participate in CaRES, as detailed elsewhere on this website.  
  2. Additional performance site:  While almost all projects continue be done at UAB, up to six 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 expanded our CaRES Seminar Series to offer more contact hours for discussion of career development topics and more lectures on the Responsible Conduct of Research; and we replaced students’ oral presentations with a poster session
  4. Mentoring contract:  We replaced our CaRES student-preceptor agreement form with a stronger Mentoring Contract that ensures all CaRES projects will be completed efficiently and in such a way that maximizes the accomplishments of each student
  5. Program faculty and staff:  Dr. Peter Smith (UAB School of Medicine) joins Dr. John Waterbor as a Program Director and Dr. Allison Litton is added as Assistant Evaluation Director.  Dr. Renee Desmond remains Associate Director and Judy Baker remains Internship Coordinator. In 2018, Dr. Luz “Aly” Padilla is added to the CaRES team to oversee longitudinal tracking of CaRES students for evaluation of their career choices, accomplishments, and to oversee social media communications with CaRES applicants and students.  

Below we display our CaRES projects and student intern statistics.  In 2004 no interns were supported due to a temporary gap in funding. 

SUMMER# CaRES PROJECTS# CaRES  INTERNS
19991616
20001820
20012733
20024456
20032128
20054558
20063542
20073848
20083543
20093141
20102932
20113443
20123243
20133343
20143344
20151515
20164141
20174747
20185050
20194545
TOTAL669788