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Community advocates for research


The Community Advocates for Research, or CARs, program is based on the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research’s model of multilayered community participation, feedback and interfacing for community-engaged research and research oversight.

Effective bi-directional communication with communities is an essential component for building community trust in research, particularly research that will be conducted with vulnerable or underserved populations.

Roles and responsibilities

A CAR is an individual who is involved in his/her community and serves as a catalyst as well as an effective conduit of information and experiences between the Community Engagement Core staff and the community in order to inform, educate, motivate and engage the community in ethical research projects that will be used to best meet the needs and interests of the community.

The CARs network (e.g., cohort group or group) has four goals:

  1. Improve community perception and awareness of research involving humans
  2. Develop new ways for academic institutions and the community to work together regarding research
  3. Identify research important to local communities
  4. Inform the community about specific research projects

Through this network, university partners provide training and educational opportunities for the community partners, and the community partners educate the university about their unique communities. Training and educational opportunities include partnerships building, training in human subjects research, data collection, leadership and project management.


  • Receive education about human subjects research
  • Plan events for the academic institution and community to come together to discuss research concerns and activities as well as pursue research possibilities
  • Organize community consultation and public disclosure activities
  • Survey the community about research knowledge, thoughts and attitudes
  • Educate the community
  • Mentor new CARs
  • Identify new research projects

For more information, email