T32: Addressing Rural Cancer Inequities Through Scientific Excellence (ARISE)

This T32 grant from the National Cancer Institute (T32 CA261786-01) is led by Mark Dignan, PhD, MPH and Nancy Schoenberg, PhD.

About our program

ARISE logo

  • This training program provides transdisciplinary and translational postdoctoral research training in rural cancer prevention, control, and survivorship. To achieve health equity and reduce the highest cancer morbidity and mortality rates in the nation, the University of Kentucky’s (UK) behavioral cancer training efforts must develop a new generation of collaborative and rigorous scientists. ARISE will meet this critical need by providing multifaceted training opportunities to well-qualified postdoctoral scholars in applied behavioral science, including intervention and dissemination and implementation science. Training emphasizes translating knowledge of risk factors into evidence-based behavioral interventions across the cancer spectrum (prevention to survivorship) for vulnerable rural residents. Trainees will select one of three thematic behavioral cancer tracks: environment, risk behavior, and health care delivery. Two trainees are selected each year for a two-year fellowship.
  • The training program, based in the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET), will operate in close collaboration with UK’s National Cancer Institute-designated Markey Cancer Center; Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences; Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; Office of the Vice President for Research and departments across UK’s 16 colleges. The 25 preceptors, co-mentors, and methodology mentors available to support trainees include well-funded investigators in transdisciplinary research with established collaborative relationships, representing diverse yet complementary areas of expertise, including behavioral science; environmental carcinogenesis; clinical and translational research; and intervention and implementation science. Additional mentoring includes geospatial analysis, mHealth, and cluster-randomized designs.
  • Each trainee has a mentoring committee with one primary mentor in her/his specified track and two secondary mentors with one from another track and a methodology mentor. Trainees participate in a rigorous, structured program that includes formal coursework, training in the responsible conduct of research, and workshops and seminars. Trainees gain career development experiences and build a professorial network through scientific writing; presentations; grant preparation and review; and leadership opportunities. Special programming designed to improve expertise in rural cancer disparities includes research shadowing, experience, a personalized rural cancer patient experience, and attendance at rural health disparities conferences.

Training grant faculty

In addition to the mentors listed below, mentees may choose mentors who are not included on the T32 but work on cancer-related topics at the University of Kentucky.

Track 1: Risk Behaviors 
Jerod Stapleton – Health Behavior     
Amanda Fallin-Bennet – Nursing     
Jennifer Havens – Behavioral Science     
Seth Himelhoch – Psychiatry
Nancy Schoenberg – Behavioral Science, CHET
Lovoria Williams – Nursing

Track 2:  Health Care Delivery
Eric Durbin – Informatics
Mark Dignan – Health Behavior
Pamela Hull – Health Behavior
Thomas Tucker – Epidemiology
Track 3:  Environment
Ellen Hahn – Nursing
Kathleen O'Connor – Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Erin Haynes – Epidemiology
Wayne Sanderson – Epidemiology
Daret St. Clair – Toxicology and Cancer Biology

Applicant eligibility

Post-doctoral applicants must possess an interest in pursuing a career in cancer health disparities in rural populations. Potential applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Number of positions

  • 2 Post-doctoral

The ARISE T32 training program enrolls two post-doctoral trainees each year. Traineeships are up to two years in duration.  

Program requirements

  • Trainees are expected to complete courses on ethical issues in clinical and translational research as well as courses on research methods, team science methods and technology, protocol development, and biostatistics.
  • Trainees will participate in the monthly Markey Cancer Center prevention, control, and Survivorship Research Program meeting, a journal club, and will have opportunities to participate in a variety of seminars, workshops, and symposia at UK over the course of their training.
  • In addition to shadowing their mentor and participating in research team meetings, each trainee will be matched with a Markey Cancer Center patient and family that resides in a rural area. The trainee will meet with the patient and family at least four times with the expectation that at least one of those meetings will be in the patient/family’s home community.

Stipend support

All trainee stipends are fixed by the National Institutes of Health, and postdoctoral stipends may vary based on years of experience following a doctoral degree. Trainees are eligible for health insurance, tuition support, and travel money when appropriate for advancing the training experience.

How to apply

Please submit your application with the elements described below.

  1. A cover letter that clearly describes your research interests and career goals and addresses how participation in ARISE would contribute to progress toward reaching those goals;
  2. Your Curriculum Vitae,
  3. A letter of reference from your primary proposed preceptor and two letters of support from faculty who can speak to your research promise.  
  4. A description of short-term and long-term training goals that have been discussed with a UK preceptor or preceptors;
  5. An original proposal describing your planned research (1,500 words or less; figures and references are not included in this total).
  6. Your proposed preceptor and mentorship team, preferably in table format as shown below.

Preceptor/Mentor Team



Proposed Role


Dr. A

Professor, Department



Dr. B

Professor, Department



Dr. C

Professor, Department



Please contact Erin Oakley if you have any questions.

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.