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New resource brings together two of VCU’s research gems – the Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry and Spit for Science – to promote more study into human health

Research registries are crucial for investigators, and the new Cohort and Registry Administration Core will boost their prominence and development.

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Two of Virginia Commonwealth University’s unique health research projects will serve as the foundation of a new centralized resource that aims to increase their visibility and usership – and that will promote expansion of such innovative work.

Research registries are incredibly useful tools for researchers. VCU’s established registries – the Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR) registry and the Spit for Science (S4S) cohort – have readily available participants, a wealth of data and the potential for longitudinal follow-up data collection. These two registries will now be under the umbrella of the new Cohort and Registry Administration Core (CARA), managed by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Housing both registries under one core, led by a team with expertise in registry management, can propel their national recognition and prestige while spurring new research projects.

"The MATR and S4S as they exist now are extremely valuable resources for researchers globally," said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president of research and innovation at VCU. "Our new model of uniting them under the CARA Core will open us up to exciting opportunities to develop new registries. Strides like these are critical as VCU continues to increase our national prominence.”

In addition to supporting the existing registries at VCU, CARA Core leadership hopes to develop and support new registries as well.

“The CARA Core team has a vast amount of experience working to establish registries and following cohorts over time,” said Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., director of CARA. “We aim to leverage this expertise to help researchers at VCU and across the nation to help them establish new registries and cohorts that can address critical questions about chronic disease and cancer risk. Such a resource can help establish VCU as a hub for personalized medicine and population health.”   

CARA Core leadership

Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., associate director of population science at VCU Massey Cancer Center and research director of family medicine and epidemiology in the School of Medicine, will now serve as the CARA Core director. Fuemmeler has more than 25 years of population health science research experience and has expertise in developing, managing and leading registry and cohort studies.

Elizabeth Prom-Wormley, Ph.D., will serve as the associate director of the CARA Core as well as the scientific director for the MATR. Prom-Wormley, an assistant professor in family medicine and epidemiology, is a genetic epidemiologist with extensive experience in the study design and analysis of community-based twin and family samples, evaluating how genetic and environmental factors contribute to chronic mental health and medical conditions.

Karen Chartier, Ph.D., will continue serving as the scientific director for Spit for Science as well as the director of the Institute for Research on Behavioral and Emotional Health. Chartier, an associate professor in VCU’s School of Social Work, has been the S4S director since January 2022. She has an extensive research background in disparities of alcohol-related problems and has been examining the complexities of how social, genetic and environmental factors influence alcohol use and misuse.

CARA Core services

The CARA Core provides a range of services to ensure researchers have the tools they need to design and carry out projects. Services are customized by highly trained research administrators who are skilled in fulfilling the needs of each project at every step, with experience in projects related to pain, addiction, liver function, metabolism and cancer risk, among others. Some of the services provided by the CARA Core are:

  • Study conceptualization, design and funding.
  • Project administration (new data collection, IRB submissions and database matching).
  • Data analysis and interpretation.
  • Support with grant fund procurement.
  • Registry dataset access.
  • Building collaborative connections across VCU and beyond.

Beyond serving as a resource of human research, the CARA Core promotes a better understanding of health, strong research outcomes and greater funding opportunities. To learn more about the services offered through the new CARA Core and to find out how the CARA Core can support VCU research teams’ goals, visit or email