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Ruby Mizue, Scott Kuwada, James Turkson and Jerris Hedges.

Ruby Mizue, Scott Kuwada, James Turkson and Jerris Hedges.

The Masami Horio Memorial Fund has awarded $100,000 to Scott Kuwada, a professor in the Clinical and Translational Research Program at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center for his gastrointestinal cancer pilot study.

Said Kuwada, “Being awarded the Masami Horio grant to study gastric cancer is special for me, since I too share a personal family connection to gastric cancer here in Hawaiʻi. Both of my grandfathers were second-generation Japanese, and one died from gastric cancer and the other from colon cancer.”

“We give great thanks to the family for their generous contribution to help us build UH Cancer Center investigators who will focus on curing the type of cancer that has affected their family as well as many others in Hawaiʻi. These funds are very important because they help early-stage studies have a chance for national funding in the future,” said Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and interim director of the UH Cancer Center.

Gastrointestinal cancer pilot study

Kuwada along with other collaborators recently discovered that a rare form of gastric cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumor occurs much more frequently in Asians than whites in Hawaiʻi, and is strongly associated with Helicobacter pylori infection.

Prior studies at the UH Cancer Center revealed that the higher risk for gastric cancer in early Japanese immigrants in Hawaiʻi was due to Helicobacter pylori infection in their stomachs, which was acquired during their childhoods in Japan.

The grant will be used to identify novel molecular risk factors for gastric cancers, which could be used to identify individuals who might benefit from gastric cancer screening. “We intend to further develop evidence that there should be a gastric cancer screening program for individuals at higher risk for gastric cancers,” said Kuwada.

About the Masami Horio Memorial Fund

Ruby Mizue was the beneficiary of a bequest from her uncle and aunt, Masami and Nobuye Horio. Ruby and her husband Paul Mizue decided to memorialize her aunt with a scholarship endowment at Leeward Community College and an expendable gift to the UH Cancer Center.

“The decision to establish a scholarship fund and to support cancer research in memory of my uncle and aunt seemed fitting memorials for them, as they had no children of their own,” said Mizue.

She added, “As a sansei or third generation Japanese-American, I have been the privileged recipient of the values and sacrifices of my grandparents, parents and loving aunts and uncles.”

Scott Kuwada sharing with the Mizue family his goal for the gastrointestinal pilot study.

Scott Kuwada sharing with the Mizue family his goal for the gastrointestinal pilot study.

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