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The Community Engagement Core (CEC) works with the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention at the University of Houston (UH) to address community-identified health challenges by rapidly disseminating scientific breakthroughs and data-driven best practices that leverage sustainable and equitable partnerships with community stakeholders.


The Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB) are groups within the CEC comprising community stakeholders. These groups work with the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention to strategically guide its focus and scope; provide community contribution to the design, execution, and dissemination of our sponsored research; and ensure that all of our communities have information and access to resources to promote lifelong health. The overall goal of the CEC is to develop and maintain strong community relationships and to advance the inclusion of our diverse community members in cutting-edge health research to address addictions and cancer disparities.


Resources provided by the CEC are directed toward both community members and HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention affiliated investigators. Available services and resources are broadly categorized within (1) Project Design Expertise; (2) Project Execution Expertise; (3) Dissemination Expertise; and (4) Community Outreach.


See our “CEC Services” below to learn more about the services we offer to affiliated investigators and community stakeholders.


The Community Advisory Board (CAB) consists of prominent community leaders across various sectors in the greater Houston area. The CAB works closely with the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention Administrative Core for strategic planning to ensure we are well-positioned to meet our diverse communities' needs in the areas of addiction research and cancer prevention. Click here to learn more about the CAB.


The Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB) encompasses a diverse group of community stakeholders, who are addiction advocates, cancer survivors/caregivers, or otherwise passionate about addressing unique health challenges that disproportionately burden community members. CRAB members serve as "community scientists," providing affiliated investigators with feedback about their research projects from conception (research question)
and design through disseminating results. 


The CRAB members receive training from the CEC regarding research ethics, design, execution, and the importance of confidentiality regarding research projects. Thereafter, CRAB members provide their knowledge, experience, and insights in the review of research projects to:

  • ensure cultural appropriateness of the research questions, measures/assessments used;

  • confirm relevance of the protocol to the best interests of the targeted community or communities;

  • problem-solve issues and potential barriers pertaining to study design and implementation;

  • optimize participant recruitment strategies and materials;

  • optimize participant retention strategies; and/or

  • ensure results and their implications are disseminated back to the communities in an understandable way.


The CRAB convenes two times monthly to meet with investigators. See our "CRAB FAQ" below for more information and visit our calendar to view upcoming meeting dates. Click here to learn more about the CRAB.
Please note: We are currently updating our resource request system to provide new features and enhancements
for improved convenience and service. If you have any questions or would like to contact us, please click here.  


Interested in learning more about the services from the CEC?

Please review our CEC Services, located below, for more information.

Interested in learning more about the services from the CRAB?

Please review the CRAB details form, located below.

Does your community or your agency have an upcoming event you would like us to attend? Are you seeking health promotion expertise and health screening services?

Please submit a service request here

Does your community or your agency have specific training needs or need an expert speaker in addiction and cancer prevention?

Please submit a service request here.   

Do you have other general questions not covered here?

Please send us a message by clicking here


Are you a community member who wants to volunteer for our community outreach activities?

Click here

Are you a community member or leader interested in serving on the CAB or CRAB?


Would you like to sign up to receive our newsletter to learn more about what we do?

Click here

CEC Resources


CEC services offered to affiliated investigators and affiliated community stakeholders

CEC Services

Frequently asked questions about the CRAB



Dr. Woodard

Chakema Carmack


Serving as the Director of the HEALTH-RCMI Community Engagement Core, Chakema Carmack is a community psychologist with a specialty in statistics and methodology. Carmack currently contributes to the field of prevention science through teaching, community involvement, and personally meaningful research. Her specific interests involve reducing the incidence of HIV and other STIs in African American and Hispanic communities. 


Carmack's research interests focus on health behavior theory to create, tailor, and evaluate behavioral STI risk-reduction programs that reflect the unique cultural needs of these populations. Other areas of research focus involve the use of complex adaptive systems methodology and latent variable modeling to explore associations between psychosocial cognitions and sexual risk behavior.


Carmack received her Ph.D. in Community Psychology with a specialty in statistics and methodology from Wichita State University. She completed her Dual Appointment Post-Doctoral fellowship from the Prevention Research Center and Methodology at Pennsylvania State University.


Kristen Morrison

Director of Community Education and Outreach


Damien Kelly, EdD

Community Education and Outreach Coordinator

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Pablo Panta

Community Education and Outreach Coodinator

Student Volunteers


The HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention seeks students from all levels interested in getting involved with the research projects we fund and the community-engaged outreach work that we do. Volunteers are accepted based on a competitive application and an interview. Evaluation criteria of student applications are availability, interests, and prior experience, as well as the goals, objectives, and needs of the RCMI at UH. We are particularly interested in recruiting and providing opportunities to students under-represented in the sciences (e.g., women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from under-represented racial/ethnic groups).

Fall 2023-Spring 2024 Selectees


Taylor Jones

Taylor Jones is currently a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. A passion of mine is to help bridge the gap in health equality. She is a member of Honors in Community Health and contributes to two projects; BREATHE and WEAR. Through these projects, she participates in building healthy. Her ultimate goal is to be a doctor who not only empowers patients but also diminishes the inequality gap in underserved populations to create quality care.


Kim Nguyen

Kim is a third-year student at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology with aspirations to attend medical school. Currently, she is a research assistant at the UH Cognitive Development lab where I work with typically developing, atypically developing (Autism Spectrum Disorder and hard/non-hearing), and bilingual children. As a part of the HEALTH-RCMI Student Volunteer Cadre, she hopes to make an impact on health equity efforts through research initiatives and community engagement.


Samuel Borromeo

I am a sophomore at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysical Science and a minor in Computer Science with aspirations to pursue an MD/PhD in computational neuroscience. My research interests consist of neurodegenerative pathology and modeling how substance use affects cognitive architecture. As a part of the HEALTH-RCMI Student Volunteer Cadre, I am a strong proponent of personally engaging with the community to address health equity disparities.


Ivy Manalo

I am a determined and reliable pre-medical student who values time and hard work. My passion for medicine has always driven me, and I dream of becoming a surgeon and conducting research to help others. Growing up in an underrepresented community has inspired me to work towards providing better care for all. I am enthusiastic about educating others on disease risks and contributing towards finding cures to eradicate them. My ultimate goal is to create a better community where everyone has access to proper health care.


Sara Michael

Sara Michael is a recent Mathematical Biology graduate from the University of Houston. Ms. Michael has participated in various research and volunteer organizations throughout her time at UH and enjoys giving back to the community that has supported her. By joining the Student Volunteer Cadre, Sara is looking forward to making meaningful connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds while learning more about the health disparities that still prevail within the greater Houston area.       


Abigayle Truong

I am currently earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Public Health and have completed course work in medical terminology, genetics, and biochemistry. I also have experience working in a research laboratory and have gained skills in data analysis, laboratory techniques, and project management. I am confident that my skills and experience will enable me to make a valuable contribution to the team.

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