University of Alabama at Birmingham

Interdisciplinary training

The National Cancer Institute, which funds the CPCTP, requires that all training provided by the CPCTP be interdisciplinary in nature. The following criteria are used to comply with this requirement.

  • Mentors. All CPCTP trainees must identify two mentors, one from their primary discipline and one from a second discipline that relates to their research. Mentors should be identified as early as possible in the trainees’ studies. (Trainees accepted into the program after September 1st, 2012 must have at least one R01 funded mentor.)
  • Elective courses. CPCTP trainees must choose elective courses that provide interdisciplinary didactic exposure and exploration of the literature of cancer prevention and control. The CPCTP 1-credit seminar is currently the only mandatory course. For trainees accepted into the program after September 1st, 2012 new R25 requirements will be instituted, i.e., a distinct research intensive course offered in the School of Nursing, (2-credits – summer semester) to hone grant writing and research skills; NUTR724 (spring semester) to impart measurement and design expertise for cancer-related studies that address diet, nutritional status and other lifestyle factors; and a 2-credit doctoral level course in epidemiology (fall semester) to address research design and analysis issues of observational studies. The core courses are designed to complement the coursework required in each of the trainees’ disciplines, and yet be flexible enough to not extend the total doctoral requirements of each discipline. Note: Trainees who have successfully completed doctoral level classes in study design and research methods in Epidemiology or Nutrition Sciences will be able to “opt-out” of these classes based on their transcripts, attainment of a grade of at least a “B” and approval by CPCTP leadership.
  • Experiences. Projects (e.g., laboratory, field, clinical), workshops, and conferences that trainees participate in or attend should be selected with a view toward interdisciplinary research experiences and exposure.
  • Research. The research undertaken by all trainees must be interdisciplinary and conducted under the direction of their dual mentors.

CPCTP seminars and scientific meetings

All trainees are expected to:

  • Attend the monthly CPCTP Seminars, which provide opportunities to interact with other trainees and to hear updates on the CPCTP. At these the Directors update trainees on Program and NCI developments, announce national meetings of interest, lead informal discussions to monitor the Program’s progress, and introduce new trainees. Trainees also update each other on their progress and interests. Trainees are expected to make at least one presentation in this seminar, usually toward the end of their training. One of these seminars each year is devoted to the CPCTP annual evaluation.
  • Attend the annual Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Retreat and submit abstracts for poster presentations when appropriate.
  • Attend other appropriate on-campus seminars (with email notification provided by Program Directors). Examples include seminars offered by the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Nutrition and Obesity Research Center, Center for Outcomes Effectiveness Research and Education, Minority Health Research Center, Center for Clinical and Translational Science, other centers, and the trainees’ respective departments. When speakers for some of these (such as the Clinical Nutrition Research Center seminar series) come from other institutions, informal lunches are often scheduled for trainees.

Funds are available to enable attendance at a national or regional conference or scientific meeting each year. (See CPCTP Resources)

Other didactic experiences and training opportunities

     Principles of Scientific Integrity (research ethics – required by NIH of all trainees supported by NIH funds). Options include GRD 717 and HCO 670 (offered most semesters).

     Mentoring standards. Some trainees come to the CPCTP with a mentor or probable mentor already identified. The Program Directors and Advisory Committee members will assist trainees who have not identified mentors to do so. Mentors must be appropriate to the trainee’s area of research interest, available for consistent mentoring, and provide interdisciplinary exposure. (Trainees accepted into the program after September 1st, 2012 must have at least one R01 funded mentor.)
     The first duty of mentors is to help their trainees to select courses that are appropriate for their academic programs and are consistent with CPCTP requirements. Most importantly, they are heavily involved in the trainees’ development of their research projects. In order to be approved by the CPCTP, mentors must be committed to meeting regularly with their trainees, preferably each week, to discuss the trainees’ progress on coursework and research, and must be available between the regular meetings.
     An additional important role of mentors is to assist trainees in identifying and accessing academic and research resources within and outside of UAB. This includes intra- and extramural research collaborations, IRB procedures, access to relevant study populations or specimens, funding opportunities, and recommendations for postdoctoral training and/or career opportunities.

     IRB and HIPAA training. All CPCTP trainees must complete training for compliance with Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Use requirements. Some trainees must also complete Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) training, depending on their enrolled degree program and research activities. All students in the School of Health Professions and the Joint Basic Health Sciences must complete HIPAA training.

     Career development opportunities. UAB Graduate School’s Professional Development Program offers courses and workshops designed to improve the academic and professional communication skills of graduate and postgraduate trainees and to help prepare them for independent careers. Topics include elements of writing grant applications; locating funding sources; preparing manuscripts for publication; finding and securing professional positions; appropriate negotiating skills; interpersonal/communication skills to develop and maintain effective relationships with students, colleagues, and supervisors; and preparing and managing a research budget. Detailed information about the Graduate School Professional Development Program courses & workshops is available at


     Under the direction of their dual mentors, CPCTP trainees either develop novel research projects or engage in ongoing cancer prevention and control research projects of their degree programs and/or the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) or Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC). To satisfy CPCTP requirements, trainees’ projects must be interdisciplinary and focus on areas that are relevant to cancer prevention and control. Many research projects involve cancer patients, some focus on populations or individuals who are at high risk for cancer due to occupational, environmental, or lifestyle factors (such as smoking, poor diet, obesity, or physical inactivity), and others are more basic in nature, using molecular techniques, microarrays, proteomics, and intermediate endpoint biomarkers. Trainees are expected to submit their research results to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

Publications and Acknowledgements

     All publications that result from or are related to CPCTP support should acknowledge the support, using language such as “This project was supported [in part] by grant number R25 CA47888, Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program grant, funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.”
     CPCTP trainees are required to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. This includes submission to Pub Med Central (PMC), upon acceptance for publication, an electronic version of a final peer-reviewed manuscript resulting from research supported in whole or in part, with direct costs from National Institutes of Health (such as the CPCTP). The author's final peer-reviewed manuscript is defined as the final version accepted for journal publication, and includes all modifications from the publishing peer review process. For additional information, please visit
     On trainee CVs, it is appropriate to list CPCTP support as something like “National Cancer Institute (NIH) pre[post]doctoral fellow, UAB Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program.”

Evaluation and follow-up

All trainees must agree to:

  • Complete a brief written Progress Report sent by the CPCTP Coordinator to all trainees at the end of each semester or year, describing what he/she has accomplished recently and what he/she plans to accomplish in upcoming months. Both the fellow and the primary advisor must sign the Report.
  • Participate in the annual CPCTP Evaluation Luncheon to evaluate the CPCTP and to propose improvements. Fellows are expected to complete written questionnaires, participate in group discussions, and to interview with CPCTP faculty individually if necessary. Other meetings for informal discussion of CPCTP business may be held throughout the year.
  • Complete an exit questionnaire and interview as they finish their CPCTP support
  • Maintain contact with the CPCTP Directors for at least 5 years after completing CPCTP support (and preferably longer). This is done in part by completing post-training questionnaires in the second and fifth years after they finish CPCTP support, to report their professional activities and publications.