From Rattlers to Gators

By: Casandra Walker

The Minority Cancer Research Training Center (MiCaRT) center is currently the highest ranking center in the nation for training minority students in the field of research. This year, the MiCaRT Center collaborated with the Research Training Opportunities for Outstanding Leaders Program (ReTOOL) Program to fund four students as part of the Advanced ReTOOL Program to conduct biomedical research in prostate cancer and various other health disparities.

DeCoria McCauley and her 2015 ReTOOL colleague Simone Mayes are currently Post-Baccalaureate students through the Minority Cancer Research Training Center in collaboration with the University of Florida.

DeCoria, a 2013 ReTOOL alumna and 2015 Advanced ReTOOL alumna completed her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Florida A&M University this past spring. She is currently a post baccalaureate fellow under Dr. Folakemi Odedina’s P20 grant. “I am so grateful for this opportunity. Not only will I be able to continue my research, but I also have the opportunity to take classes I did not have a chance to take as an undergraduate” says McCauley. She is especially excited to take Spanish; a language which has always been of interest to her. She hopes it will make her more relatable to a vast population of individuals.


DeCoria plans to be a physician conducting translational research with a focus on women’s reproductive health, pediatrics, or diseases that primarily affect the disadvantaged. Some examples include lupus, human papillomavirus (HPV), and prostate cancer. She plans to specialize in obstetrics-gynecology or pediatric surgery.

Simone Mayes, first place recipient of the 2015 ReTOOL Outstanding Scholar Award, recently received her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Florida A&M University. Simone is interested in clinical research and was drawn to ReTOOL due to the history of cancer throughout her family.


I will be taking classes to strengthen and expand my knowledge base in core scientific curricula. I will also be conducting cancer research with some of the esteemed faculty members at this institution.

After completing the post-bac program and successfully matriculating through medical school and thereafter, Simone plans to open up practice as a surgeon.

DeCoria and Simone are enjoying their experiences as post-baccalaureates and are grateful for the support they continually receive from the ReTOOL program and MiCaRT Center.

Whether pursuing a master’s degree, doctoral degree or medical degree, the MiCaRT and ReTOOL teams will continue to push their alumni to reach greater heights and be the best in their prospective fields.

Simone Mayes and DeCoria McCauley
Simone Mayes and DeCoria McCauley