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University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researchers were awarded a $5.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to address cancer health disparities among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. UH Cancer Center researchers Loïc Le Marchand and Jeffrey Berenberg will lead the development of the first Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Hawaiʻi that will focus on conducting public impact research that bridge the gap between scientific discoveries and their real-world applications, primarily focusing on local ethnic groups.

“We are grateful to the NCI for selecting our application for their first SPORE focused on Cancer Health Disparities,” said Le Marchand. “This planning grant provides a unique opportunity for the UH Cancer Center to grow its translational research to more robustly address the cancer health inequities experienced by some of our communities.”

exterior shot of cancer center
UH Cancer Center

SPORE will initially focus on disparities in lung and breast cancer. One project will address the disproportionately high lung cancer mortality rate among Native Hawaiians by developing a culturally sensitive, risk-based lung cancer screening strategy and comparing molecular features of lung tumors across ethnic groups.

A second project will target the high rates of breast cancer among Native Hawaiians, and the escalating rates observed in Asian Americans. It will evaluate the performance of published risk prediction models based on mammography images in these populations and explore related molecular features of breast tumors.

This three-year grant, supported by NCI’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, will also fund core resources and pilot projects to develop new innovative research addressing cancer health disparities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

Since its establishment in 1992, the SPORE program has significantly advanced collaborative and interdisciplinary translational cancer research, with each SPORE focusing on a specific organ site, groups of related cancers or common themes linking the cancers under investigation. They aim to translate primary scientific findings to clinical settings, understand the biological rationale for observations made in people with cancer or at-risk populations, and achieve a human end-point outcome within a five-year timeframe.

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