The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is one of the institutions most critical to the health and well-being of our community. The State of Hawaiʻi has made a remarkable and well-considered investment in the center. The University of Hawaiʻi deeply appreciates that investment and the trust placed in us to leverage that investment to fight cancer in Hawaiʻi.
Over the last weeks there has been considerable public discourse about the center. Rather than looking backwards, we would like to share the specific steps we are now taking to strengthen the management and operations of the center to ensure its success.
It is important that we begin with some basic principles and commitments:
- Our vision is improved cancer care in Hawaiʻi for Hawaiʻi residents and contributing substantively to a world without cancer.
- The UH Cancer Center serves the community and the state in achieving that vision.
- The UH Cancer Center focuses on the creation of knowledge about cancer and collaboration with our community hospitals, practitioners, patients and others committed to battling cancer in Hawaiʻi and beyond.
- The UH Cancer Center clinical trials program is designed to work with its partner hospitals to provide cutting edge cancer treatments to local residents so that cancer patients do not have to travel to the mainland for access to the most modern therapies.
Our approaches to serving the community and the state are grounded in:
- Community-based collaboration, which we execute through the UH Cancer Consortium with our partners at Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, the Queen’s Medical Center, Kuakini Medical Center and our own John A. Burns School of Medicine.
- A commitment to sustaining and renewing our designation as one of just 68 organizations designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which can facilitate access to novel therapies.
- Sound and respectful treatment of our faculty and staff, and sound management of our financial and physical resources, including the world-class facility built in Kakaʻako with the support of the Legislature and people of Hawaiʻi.
- An unwavering commitment to academic excellence.
The recent controversy has focused on management issues at the center. We recognize the need to strengthen management support. Our first step in addressing this is to solidify and clarify the leadership team. Accordingly, as of Monday, January 13 the leadership team of the UH Cancer Center will consist of the following:
- Dr. Michele Carbone will continue as director of the UH Cancer Center, an Organized Research Unit of the UH Mānoa campus. Dr. Carbone is the architect of the innovative consortium through which the UH Cancer Center works to serve Hawaiʻi. He led the renewal of the NCI designation in which the National Cancer Institute Review Board rated the overall performance of the Cancer Center as “Excellent” and rated him “Outstanding” as director. Dr. Carbone will continue to provide forward-looking vision and leadership for the future of the center and its research. He will set organizational direction, lead recruitment and fundraising and continue his own research program, through which he exemplifies his personal and organizational commitment to academic excellence.
- Dr. Patricia Blanchette will join the UH Cancer Center as associate director for administration and chief operating officer. Dr. Blanchette will be leaving her current role as CEO of UCERA, the faculty practice organization created to support the clinical, academic and research activities of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and other clinical practices. She has led UCERA from a challenging past to a strong present position with a positive future. She holds AA, BA, MD and MPH degrees from UH and has been recognized as a UH Distinguished Alumna. Over the past decades Dr. Blanchette has served UH Mānoa as a faculty member, as a highly productive researcher, as a department chair, and on the faculty Senate Executive Committee.
- The Cancer Center and Dr. Carbone report to Dr. Brian Taylor, (interim) vice chancellor for research for UH Mānoa. Dr. Taylor also leads the UH Mānoa School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology, the largest and most successful Organized Research Unit at UH. He is one of UH’s strongest research administrators with experience leading over 900 faculty and staff responsible for over $100 million per year in research funding. Dr. Taylor has been with UH for over 30 years.
- Dr. Virginia Hinshaw has agreed to serve as senior advisor to Dr. Carbone and Dr. Taylor. Dr. Hinshaw is the former chancellor of UH Mānoa who presided over the campus during the establishment of the UH Cancer Consortium. She is a distinguished researcher with previous NIH experience and a nationally recognized research administrator who has worked with cancer centers at four different universities. She currently represents JABSOM on the Cancer Center Executive Committee.
The new leadership team is charged to establish a sound organizational and financial capacity for the center and the consortium that supports a successful renewal of our NCI designation. It will achieve this by:
- Ensuring that procedures and practices support excellence in collaborative scholarship and stewardship of public resources.
- Establishing an improved dialog within the UH Cancer Center around the complex and multi-faceted issues that must be addressed for the center to achieve its goals.
- Creating an environment in which center administrators, faculty and staff can best utilize their strengths.
- Developing and executing a prudent financial plan that supports successful renewal of our NCI designation.
It’s time to move beyond the interpersonal drama that has played out in recent weeks. We are committed to working together to polish our jewel, the UH Cancer Center, the only designated National Cancer Institute within 2,500 miles of Hawaiʻi’s cancer patients, hospitals and practitioners. We invite everyone within UH and the community who is committed to the creation of knowledge to end cancer in our lifetimes to join us in moving forward together.
John Holzman, Chair, UH Board of Regents
David Lassner, Interim President, UH
Tom Apple, Chancellor, UH Mānoa
Brian Taylor, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, UH Mānoa
Michele Carbone, Director, UH Cancer Center