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OU Center for the Advancement of  Research Excellence in Surgery

Advancing patient care by contributing to high-quality research is a top priority for the Department of Surgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. To support surgeon-scientists in this effort, OU CARES was founded in 2018, bringing together people with a wide breadth of skills and a strong desire to help both current and future patients.

OU CARES supports our faculty and trainees in projects along the spectrum of translational science, from the bench to comparative effectiveness research. Our research support team includes funded bench scientists, epidemiologists/biostatisticians with expertise in risk score development and big data sets, regulatory experts, a clinical research nurse, and an experienced histologist skilled at creating publication-ready images. Because of strong support from the department chair, these services are available to all faculty and trainees at no cost.

The Department of Surgery at the OU College of Medicine aims to lead the region in clinical trials, high-impact science and extramural grant funding because we know our patients need us to continue striving toward new discoveries.





Centralized Support Request

To assure rapid response to requests for assistance from OU CARES as we build our department’s database of projects and enhance collaboration, we have developed an easy online intake form. Once submitted, the members of our team will be notified on the areas you need support. A member of our team will be in contact with further instruction and to set up a meeting to discuss the project. 

Complete this form


Industry Trials Request

Please send all information in regards to the trial to the email below. We review all trials in our Friday meetings and will reach out when we have made a decision. Please send as much information as possible to insure a quick turn around.


Access to REDCap 

To gain access to REDCap and to get a specially designed database for your project, please click on the link below and you should be able to log in with your OUHSC credentials. If you have any trouble, please email Asaleigh Cline or click on her email below and it will send her an email, She will be in touch soon with further instructions.

REDCap Access





Meet The Team

We are here to help support surgeons so they can focus on their work at the bench and bedside by offering the following services.


Katherine Morris, M.D., FACS – Dr. Morris is a funded surgeon-scientist who leads a team of translational scientists seeking to span the gap between the laboratory and patient care. She is available for consultation regarding project development, strategic career development, collaborations and manuscript presentation.





Min Li, Ph.D. – Dr. Li  is a well-funded basic/translational research scientist who focuses on the biology and developmental therapeutics of gastrointestinal cancers and brain tumors. He is available for consultation regarding project design, strategic career development, collaborations, grant writing and manuscript preparations.



Lacey McNally, Ph.D. – Dr. McNally has experience in clinical collaborations, grant writing and reviewing, and project development. She has mentored medical residents/fellows and multiple clinicians in research and NIH proposal writing. Her research focuses on novel cancer diagnostics and imaging technology with the goal of rapid translation to clinical care for patients with solid tumors, i.e. pancreas, breast and ovarian cancers




William Berry, Ph.D. – Dr. Berry has a wealth of expertise in animal model development and genetic engineering techniques. He is available to discuss translational project development and grant applications.






Outcomes Research


Tabitha Garwe, MPH, Ph.D. – Dr. Garwe, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology, leads the Outcomes Research section of OU CARES. She has extensive experience in conducting clinical epidemiologic research. She enjoys designing and conducting studies with a particular emphasis on the innovative application of epidemiologic and statistical methods to complex clinical questions. She and her team (Dr. Kenneth Stewart and Dr. Zoona Sarwar) are available for consultation regarding outcomes research study design, statistical analysis planning and execution, and manuscript preparation.




Kenneth Stewart, MPH, Ph.D. – Dr. Stewart is an Assistant Professor of Research and has extensive experience working in public health and clinical trials. He particularly enjoys assisting with study design and analyzing large, complex datasets.






Zoona Sarwar, MBBS, MS – Dr. Sarwar is an epidemiologist with particular expertise in rapid descriptive analyses and complex multivariable regression analyses. She enjoys challenging questions and getting new insights from complex datasets.





Regulatory Compliance, and Clinical Trial Support


Theresa Lander, Research Regulatory Specialist III – Ms. Lander has extensive experience in research regulatory support and interfacing with the Office of Research Administration and the IRB. She is available for assistance with online IRB applications (iRIS) and the OUHSC grants and contracts software (SoonerTrack). 





Stephanie Mitchell, RN, Clinical Trials Research Nurse - Ms. Mitchell has over 20 years of experience as a Research RN in surgery and gastrointestinal research combined, in both inpatient and outpatient protocols. She has extensive experience in research compliance, consenting patients, collecting data and maintaining documentation, performing blood draws and processing specimens.





David Alexander, LPN, Clinical Trials Research Nurse - David has over 20 years of experience as a Research LPN in Cardiovascular, Peripheral Vascular and Dermatology trials. He has worked on both inpatient and outpatient protocols and has extensive experience in research compliance, informed consent for research, collecting data, maintaining documentation, performing blood draws and processing specimens.





Asaleigh Cline, Medical Student Research Coordinator - Ms. Cline has created a matchmaking process to help both faculty and students get set up for reaserch projects within the Department of Surgery. She has experience in onboarding new students and can guide new faculty in required trainings. She is here to trouble shoot or facilitate any assistance needed.  




Specimen Handling/Storage, Immunohistochemistry, and Figure Generation Support


Megan Lerner, HT (ASCP) – Ms. Lerner has years of experience working with the Department of Surgery and has extensive contacts with other scientists on campus. As a histology technician, she is available to assist with specimen handling, processing, embedding and preparation of sections from paraffin or frozen tissues for routine, special stains, and immunohistochemistry.  Support for generation of publication-ready images are also available with the Leica DM500 Brightfield Microscope.






Pilot Grant Program

The Department of Surgery offers faculty and residents the chance to compete for pilot funds to pursue new projects, allowing the generation of high-quality preliminary data to support external grant applications. The review committee for this competitive process uses NIH-style peer review to select the grants, encouraging the development of grantsmanship skills among those with less experience in this area.


2020 Winners




Dr. Scott Blair is collaborating with Dr. Jay Hanas to study serum samples from Veterans in their project titled:  Serum identification and phenotype assessment of traumatic brain injury and associated concussion disorders. His proposal was funded in full at $6500.







Dr. Arthur Grimes is collaborating with Drs. Elizabeth Hile, Katherine Morris, Gary Dunn, Kristina Booth, and Steven Carter to study frail colorectal cancer patients in their project titled: Bolus prehab in frail colorectal cancer surgical patients. His proposal was funded in full at $20,316.