The University of Hawaiʻi realized a dream on Saturday, with the grand opening of its long awaited Cancer Center in Kakaʻako.

More than 300 people attended the celebration, including Senator Daniel Inouye’s family—Irene Hirano Inouye and Ken Inouye—U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa, state lawmakers, university leadership, UH Cancer Center employees and the community.

The event marked the completion of a project that began in October 2010. The UH Cancer Center was completed four months ahead of schedule and $16 million dollars under budget.

“This is a critical time for cancer research in Hawaiʻi, and the state-of-the-art center will attract top tier researchers and visiting scholars,” said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.

“This facility, as I have learned personally and I’m sure you will learn more and more over time, is already helping us to recruit people and encourage people to stay and do their work here in Hawaiʻi,” Greenwood said.

The UH Cancer Center currently employs more than 300 people—including 40 primary faculty members. They are conducting more than 100 cancer research projects with the goal of finding cures for cancer, improving prevention and treatment.

“So we are truly at a pivotal juncture in this goal of turning the tide back against cancer. I don’t think it’s ever been a more tangible reality than it is today,” said scientist and Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn.

“Investments in cancer research by governments around the world have accelerated the pace of discovery and the development of new and better therapies, new and better ideas for prevention, diagnosis and treatment in all age groups,” said Margaret Foti, chief executive officer at the American Association for Cancer Research.

The six-story, 150-thousand-square-foot UH Cancer Center brings all of the center’s programs and researchers under one roof.

The center’s director says this facility will ensure that researchers continue to study cancer in relation to the unique characteristics of the people of Hawaiʻi. And it will ease the burden of cancer on patients and their families.

“You want to be treated next to your family. You want to be treated where you live because the support of your family is critical,” said UH Cancer Center Director Michele Carbone.

“This will allow those treatments to be available here and in fact with the new and best treatments here in Hawaiʻi. So it’s really going to change how we treat cancer in Hawaiʻi and literally change and save people’s lives,” said UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple.

“Thank you, all of you, the taxpayers of Hawaiʻi and those who have encouraged them to help us build this. You’ll never regret it. We’ll do you proud,” Greenwood said.

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