Associate Professor
Division of Preventive Medicine

Contact Information:

Medical Towers 637
1717 11th Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35205
Phone: (205) 934-3722
Fax: (205) 934-4262

Research Interests

  • Cancer Epidemiology
  • Cancer Prevention and Control
  • Nutrition and Cancer
  • Obesity

Current Research Projects

P30DK56336 (Desmond) 06/01/2012 – 05/31/2017
UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) Biostatistics Core
The objective of the NORC is to foster a multidisciplinary approach to basic, clinical, and translational research focusing on an understanding of factors underlying nutrition and obesity-related health problems. Overall, the Biostatistics Core (BC) serves as the focal point from which NORC investigators draw statistical expertise for the design, management and analysis of nutrition-related research projects. The specific aims of the BC are to: 1) Coordinate and manage statistical activities in the NORC to ensure that investigators have ready access to statistical consultation and support; 2) Provide statistical consultation on study design and research proposal development; 3) Provide statistical analyses for NORC projects including statistical genetics; 4) Participate in teaching and training activities of the NORC; and 5) Develop methodologies for novel experimental designs and analyses. Dr. Desmond is Director of the BC for NORC.

R25CA76023 (Waterbor) 09/01/2015 – 08/30/2020 NIH/NCI
UAB Cancer Research Experiences for Students (CaRES)
The long-term goal of the CaRES Program is to motivate participating UAB biomedical graduate students and medical students as well as students in other select institutions to pursue careers in cancer research. The short-term goals of CaRES are to furnish interested students the support needed to undertake a short cancer research experience under the guidance of the UAB CCC faculty and to furnish these faculty capable students who can enhance their research productivity. Dr. Desmond assists with statistical analyses and manuscript development for trainees and is the Director of Student Research.

P30CA13148 (Partridge) 03/31/2016 – 03/31/2021
Comprehensive Cancer Center Core Support Grant
The primary objective of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Facility (BSSF) is to provide centralized statistical services and collaborative research support for the research projects of the Cancer Center. The primary goals in the BBSF are to provide support for statistical review of protocols in the Cancer Center and to assist with design and analysis plans for investigator initiated protocols.

R01DK096388 (Gower) 04/01/2013-03/31/2018
Race-Adiposity Interactions Regulate Mechanisms determining Insulin Sensitivity
This project will address two gaps in knowledge that are a critical barrier to eliminating ethnic disparities in type 2 diabetes: 1) the importance of environmental (e.g., obesity) vs. inherent (genetic) factors in determining insulin sensitivity in African American and European Americans and 2) the relative contribution of muscle and liver to insulin sensitivity in lean and obese African Americans and European Americans. Dr. Desmond assists with statistical analysis and study design.

C60112049 (Desmond) 07/01/2016-06/30/2017
Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Coalition
An evaluation will be conducted of the Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, plan and coalition. Findings will be incorporated into reports delivered to the Alabama Department of Public Health and CDC an annual basis.

1R01DK103863-01A1 (Dutton) 06/15/2015-05/31/2020
Fixed Versus Variable Energy Reduction During Behavioral Obesity Treatment
This project investigates two treatments for weight loss. One treatment uses a fixed calorie diet and the other uses a variable calorie diet to compare the effects on reductions in weight loss and other biological, behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes. Dr. Desmond assisted with the study design and randomization and will assist with progress reports, data analysis and manuscript preparation.

Educational Background

  • Purdue University, BS Biology, 1979, West Lafayette, IN
  • Purdue University, DVM Veterinary Medicine, 1983, West Lafayette, IN
  • Georgetown University, MS Biostatistics & Epidemiology, 1993, Washington, DC
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham, PhD Epidemiology, 1996, Birmingham, Alabama

Professional Activities

  • Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Coalition, Evaluation Chair (2005-present)
  • Mentor for Minority Health Research Center Scholar Program (2010-2011)
  • Nutrition Obesity Research Center (Biostatistics Core Director, 2006-present)
  • Comprehensive Cancer Center (Associate Scientist)
  • Cancer Center Clinical Trials Review Committee (Member)
  • Post-doc Fellow in Cancer Prevention and Control, 1993-1996, UAB
  • Reviewer: Obesity, Annals of Surgical Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Cancer, Chest, Melanoma Research, American Journal of Medicine, Journal of Gastroenterology

Selected Recent Publications

  • Padilla LA, Venkatesch R, Daniel CL, Desmond RA, Brooks CM, Waterbor JW. An evaluation methodology for longitudinal studies of short-term cancer research training programs. J Cancer Educ 2016:3:84-92. PMID: 25412722 PMCID: 4441613.
  • Kaiser KA, Affuso O, Desmond R, Alison DB. Baseline participant characteristics and risk for dropout from 10 obesity randomized controlled trials: a pooled analysis of individual level data. Front. Nutr. 1:25.pii.00025.  PMC4296899.
  • Desmond R, Padilla LA, Daniel Cl, Prickett CT, Venkatesh R, Brooks M, Waterbor JW. Career outcomes of graduates of R25E short-term cancer research training programs. J Cancer Educ 2016:1:93-100. PMID 25604064 PMCID PMC4511721.
  • Carson T, Desmond RA, Hardy S, Townsend S, Ard JD, Meneses K, Partridge E, Baskin ML. A study of the relationship between food group recommendations and perceived stress: findings from black women in the Deep South. J Obesity 2015 doi: 10.1155/2015/203164. PMID: 25821595 PMCID 4364113.
  • Desmond R, Jackson BE, Hunter G. Utilization of 2013 behavioral risk factor surveillance system physical activity data for state cancer control plan objectives: Alabama data. Southern Med J 2015 May;108(5)290-7. PMID 25972217. PMCID 4435815.
  • Pekmezi D, Ainsworth C, Joseph R, Bray MS, Kvale E, Isaac S, Desmond R, Meneses K, Marcus B, Demark-Wahnefried W. Rationale, design and baseline findings from HIPP: a randomized trial testing the home-based, individually tailored physical activity print intervention for African American women in the deep south. Contemporary Clinical Trials 2016; 47:340-8. PMID 26944022 PMCID PMC4821007.
  • Demark-Wahnefried W, Nix JW, Hunter GR, Rais-Bahrami S, Desmond RA, Chacko B, Morrow CD, Azrad M, Fruge A, Tsuruta Y, Ptacek T, Tully SA, Segal R, Grizzle WE. Feasibility outcomes of a presurgical randomized controlled trial exploring the impact of caloric restriction and increased physical activity versus a wait-list control on tumor characteristics and circulating biomarkers in men electing prostatectomy for prostate cancer. BMC Cancer 2016;16:61. PMID 26850040 PMCID PMC4743419.
  • Padilla AL, Desmond RA, Brooks M, Waterbor JW. Automated Searches for Publications as a Component of Longitudinal Tracking of Cancer Research Training Program Graduates. J Cancer Educ. Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27734282
  • Frugé A, Ptacek T Tsuruta Y, Morrow CD, Azrad M, Desmond RA, Hunter GR, Rais-Bahrami S, Demark-Wahnefried W. Dietary changes impact the gut microbe composition in overweight and obese men with prostate cancer undergoing radical prostatectomy. J Acad Nutr Dietetics 2016. Dec. 14. pii: S2212-2672(16)31299-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.10.017. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27988219.


  • Phi Kappa Phi (1997)
  • Delta Omega (1997)
  • William Bailey Award in Cancer Prevention and Control, 1996 UAB Cancer Center Retreat