U H Cancer Center researchers
UH Cancer Center researchers

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has increased support of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center under the Cancer Center Support Grant from $5.7 million to $8.4 million, and has extended the term of the current NCI designation by an additional year to July 2022. The funding supports core research infrastructure at the UH Cancer Center that is essential for researchers to conduct studies targeted at reducing the burden of cancer for the people of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

“We are extremely pleased that the National Cancer Institute has recognized the incredible contributions that our investigators have made toward understanding the etiologies of cancer and toward the development of novel cancer prevention and treatment approaches,” said UH Cancer Center Director Randall Holcombe.

In addition to basic laboratory and population-based research, the center conducts cancer prevention and control research and provides access to clinical trials for most of the patients in the state in collaboration with clinical partners in the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium. Among the many highlights noted by NCI at the time of the last review in 2018, the community outreach and engagement component of the UH Cancer Center was rated as “exceptional,” the highest rating possible. This is a reflection of the commitment of the UH Cancer Center to serving the people of Hawaiʻi.

“The University of Hawaiʻi is proud to receive this increase in support from the National Cancer Institute,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “This provides well-deserved national recognition of the important work we are doing and our path forward. Over the past three years, the UH Cancer Center has excelled in generating significant new discoveries and insights in cancer research, and in translating these discoveries into advances that will help cancer patients and those at risk for this debilitating disease. We are always mindful of our responsibility as the only cancer research center serving Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.”

The UH Cancer Center has 69 full-time faculty members based at the center and at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, the Office of Public Health and the Departments of Chemistry and Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at UH Mānoa, and UH Hilo’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Overall, the center’s faculty bring in approximately $41 million in federal and private research support annually. In 2018, more than 3,500 people in Hawaiʻi enrolled in some type of clinical research study directed by UH Cancer Center faculty.

“Our mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach, with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural and environmental characteristics of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific,” added Holcombe. “We are grateful for the support of the people of Hawaiʻi, the governor and Legislature, the University of Hawaiʻi and the National Cancer Institute so that we can work to fulfill this mission.”

—By Nana Ohkawa

researchers in the lab