exterior shot of cancer center
UH Cancer Center

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is a leader in many areas of cancer research, and has made substantial contributions to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Islands, the nation and the world. That’s according to the center’s External Advisory Committee (EAC), composed of cancer experts from around the country. Every National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center (71 total) is required to have an EAC to advise and review center operations and initiatives.

“On this 50th anniversary of the founding of the UH Cancer Center (UHCC), we, the members of the UHCC EAC, congratulate the people of Hawaiʻi, your elected officials, leadership of the University of Hawaiʻi, members of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium, and other community supporters for your visionary support of this superb cancer research center,” said the committee in a May 5 letter to the people of Hawaiʻi. “We also applaud the UHCC’s past and present scientists, staff, and administrators whose vision and dogged determination have enabled the UHCC to fulfill the promise that was envisioned 50 years ago this year.”

The letter also noted the UH Cancer Center is unique compared to the nation’s other cancer centers because of the large geographic and ethnically diverse area it serves. The complete letter is below along with the authors.

Congratulations to the UH Cancer Center on its 50th Anniversary!

Aloha to the People of Hawaiʻi,

Each of the nation’s 71 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers is required to have an External Advisory Committee (EAC) composed of cancer experts from around the country. The undersigned members of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s EAC met in Honolulu in early 2022, almost 50 years to the date after the UHCC was founded by the University of Hawaiʻi and the people of Hawaiʻi. We are writing to update you on the substantial contributions the UHCC has made, and will continue to make, to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Islands, the nation and the world.

The UHCC is unique among the nation’s cancer centers in a number of ways. The geographic area served by the UHCC is enormous, encompassing Hawaiʻi, Guam, and other United States Affiliated Pacific Islands. The ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the people living throughout this area is greater than for any other cancer center in the country. Within the state, the UHCC successfully works with the major health care systems as a member of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium focused on reducing the region’s burden of cancer. This has resulted in productive and unique collaborations among Hawaiʻi’s health care systems.

A major focus of the collaboration between the UHCC and the health systems in Hawaiʻi is in the conduct of cancer clinical trials. Clinical trials represent the most promising new ways to find cancer early, treat people with cancer more effectively, and provide support for people coping with cancer and for their loved ones. The UHCC has worked with the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium to collaborate in a manner that provides the people of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands direct access to highly innovative cancer clinical trials in Hawaiʻi, without the need for travel away from home and family. This is also important because it provides confidence that new and exciting cancer treatments are shown to work equally well for the ethnically diverse people of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

The UHCC is comprised of national leaders in many areas of cancer research. A key example is the UHCC Multi-Ethnic Cohort Study. This collaborative study involves analyzing information on health and lifestyle from volunteer participants from various ethnic backgrounds over many years. The information derived from this study has been used to make ground-breaking discoveries related to the role of diet, lifestyle, and genetics in cancer, directly affecting the populations the UHCC serves. This includes engaging various communities to develop new approaches to support healthier lifestyles that will ultimately reduce the future burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. Other researchers at the UHCC are exploring cancer at the molecular and cellular level. Indeed, discoveries made in the research laboratories in Kakaʻako will serve as the foundation for the next generation of new approaches to preventing, detecting and treating cancer. This fertile environment for research is also producing the next generation of cancer researchers through the many levels of educational and mentorship initiatives.

On this 50th anniversary of the founding of the UHCC, we, the members of the UHCC EAC, congratulate the people of Hawaiʻi, your elected officials, leadership of the University of Hawaiʻi, members of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium, and other community supporters for your visionary support of this superb cancer research center. We also applaud the UHCC’s past and present scientists, staff, and administrators whose vision and dogged determination have enabled the UHCC to fulfill the promise that was envisioned 50 years ago this year.

Mahalo, on behalf of those of us who live on the mainland, for the contributions the UHCC has made to reducing the burden of cancer beyond the islands as well!

With appreciation and warm Aloha,

George J. Weiner
Chair, UHCC External Advisory Committee
Director, Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Iowa

Karen E. Knudsen
Vice-Chair, UHCC EAC
Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society & American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Professor, SidneyKimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health and Thomas Jefferson University

Melissa Bondy
Stanford Medicine Discovery Chair and Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
Associate Director of Population Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Cancer Institute

David M. Gosky
Executive Director, Administration
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-The James

Primo (Lucky) Lara
Director, University of California Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine
Codman-Radke Endowed Chair for Cancer Research
Executive Associate Dean for Cancer Programs
University of California Davis School of Medicine

Frank L. Meyskens, Jr.
Professor of Medicine, Biological Chemistry and Public Health, College of Health Sciences
Director Emeritus and Senior Advisor, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of California Irvine

Timothy R. Rebbeck
Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Ken Resnicow
Irwin M. Rosenstock Collegiate Professor
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Department of Health Behavior & Health Education
Associate Director, Community Outreach and Health Disparities Research
Rogel Cancer Center

Georgia Robins Sadler
Professor of Surgery, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Past Associate Director for Community Outreach, UCSD Moores Cancer Center

David Tuveson
Director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center
Roy J. Zuckerberg Professor of Cancer Research

Gary Schwartz
Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Deputy Director, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University Medical Center

Michael Teitell
Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology
Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics and Bioengineering