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Investment in People

Senior Faculty: attracting and supporting world-renowned cancer scientists and clinicians to Hawaiʻi will be facilitated through the establishment of endowed chairs in focused areas of cancer research. These endowed chairs will enable the UH Cancer Center to compete for the best scientists and clinicians with other NCI- designated and international cancer centers.

Junior Faculty: support will be provided to nurture the professional and scientific development of junior faculty beginning their careers in cancer research. It is important to provide support at a critical juncture in their careers until they can be successful in obtaining independent NIH-type funding for their research programs.

Graduate Students: graduate students are in many ways the life-blood of a cancer center, beginning their post-graduate careers, bringing new ideas, and challenging established paradigms. Support is needed to provide competitive stipends of sufficient duration in order to attract the best students from around the world.

Undergraduate and High School Students: the introduction of genuine scientific investigation to undergraduates and high school students can have a transformational impact on their future careers. Funds will be utilized to augment existing Cancer Center outreach programs to these groups, providing education as well as hands-on opportunities to engage in novel research.

Advancing Pioneering Research Programs

Drug Discovery Commercialization Complex (D2C2): establishment of a D2C2 will be supported that will facilitate the development of new agents for cancer prevention and treatment, facilitate the identification of natural products only found in Hawaiʻi that have anti-cancer activity and foster collaborations with industry and biomedical start-ups in order to drive discovery toward the development of commercial products.

Institute for Ethnic Diversity and Cancer Health Disparities: a major strength and unique characteristic of the UH Cancer Center has been its focus on and innovative discovery in the areas of cancer health disparities. With Hawaiʻi’s unique population, there are vast opportunities to define novel risk factors for disease in different racial and ethnic populations, that are not being studied by any other NCI-designated cancer center. Support will enhance and expand research activities.

Cancer Biology: the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center has nationally recognized expertise in the study of molecular signaling, metastases and gene-environment interactions contributing to cancer development. Programmatic support will accelerate discoveries in basic cancer biology and facilitate the creation of a unique organoid facility for the laboratory-based study of cancers, particularly those disproportionally affecting components of the Hawaiʻi population.

Artificial Intelligence and Precision Health: research on the interface of information technology, engineering and medicine has the potential to rapidly advance the care of cancer patients through the development of novel screening, risk factor identification and treatment modalities. Support will accelerate current research, facilitate coordination across other schools and colleges at the University, and support creation of a formal research institute.

Institute for the study of diet, microbiome and cancer: University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center faculties are currently studying the impact of diet, obesity and alterations in the microbiome on the incidence and outcomes from cancer. Philanthropic support will facilitate additional faculty recruitment in this emerging area, support novel populations-based studies, define the role of microbiome in the response to cancer treatments, enable acquisition of equipment to support metabolomics research and fund innovative high-risk, high-reward projects.

COVID/Cancer Research Program: the long-term effects of COVID-19, particularly on development of lung cancer, liver cancer and head & neck cancers, is uncertain. Research is needed now to establish cohorts of patients who can be screened and followed over time to evaluate for effects on cancer incidence.

Translational Science

Early Phase Clinical Research Center (EPCRC): creation of an EPCRC at UH Cancer Center will provide patients in Hawaiʻi access to the most advanced and innovative cancer treatments, currently not available in the state. Patients will not only benefit from expanded treatment options, but will also benefit financially and emotionally by avoiding the cost, lost wages and emotional stress for themselves and their families inherent in travel out of state. This program is a natural extension of the D2C2 drug development program to bring new compounds from the bench (discovery) to the bedside (patients).

Cancer Prevention: critical to fulfilling the mission to reduce the burden of cancer is the focus on cancer prevention. Support will enable expansion of activities in Hawaiʻi and across the Pacific, improvement in approaches to screening and prevention, development of a trans-Pacific mammography registry, development of new approaches to mitigate the adverse effects of e-cigarettes, and result in overall reduction in cancer incidence.

Institute for Innovation in Cancer Care Delivery Science: This new area of science combines clinical practice, quality improvement and economic innovation into a rigorous science testing new principles through clinical interventions. Support will enable establishment of the Institute, recruitment of expert faculty and expansion of research initiatives.

Cancer Specific Research Opportunities: several cancers affect the people of Hawaiʻi at increased rates compared to other states or disproportionately affect specific populations within Hawaiʻi. Support will transform research programs in breast, lung, prostate, colorectal, liver and pancreatic cancers, all cancers seen at high rates in Hawaiʻi for which new approaches for treatment and prevention are needed.