group of student interns
2021 CREATE program interns

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center welcomed 16 undergraduate students for its inaugural (CREATE) program. The program, which runs from June 1 to July 30, is being held annually with hopes to increase the number of students pursuing careers in cancer research and provide them with the skills to excel in the field. It is supported by a $1.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health over five years.

The trainees are Hawaiʻi or Guam residents, and currently enrolled as sophomores or juniors at universities all across the nation. They were paired with faculty mentors to work in UH Cancer Center research programs in population sciences in the Pacific or cancer biology. During the program, trainees participate in seminars, contribute to manuscript preparation and journal clubs, conduct poster presentations and receive training in the responsible conduct of research, laboratory safety and/or human research protection.

CREATE addresses the overarching goal of enhancing the training of a future workforce to meet biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs to lower cancer incidence and mortality in the Pacific. The program builds upon the success of the UH Cancer Center’s Summer Internship Program, which has provided research experiences to more than 220 students over the last 10 years.

“My family, like many others, has been greatly affected by cancer. All the women on my father’s side were diagnosed with breast cancer. As they were all part Native Hawaiian, I became particularly interested in learning about cancer risk among racial/ethnic minority groups,” said Jade Ching, a UH Mānoa junior and CREATE trainee. “So far, the CREATE program has taught me research and presentation skills that will pave the path to ensuring the highest quality of life in Hawaiʻi’s cancer patients. Having the opportunity to partake in meaningful research has made this summer unforgettable.”

The CREATE program is being led by UH Cancer Center researchers Gertraud Maskarinec, Joe W. Ramos and Joseph Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula.

This program is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.