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News Highlights

September 20, 2018

World-renowned scholar honored with UH Cancer Center emeritus professorship

Laurence Kolonel, MD, PhD, was honored with an emeritus professorship at the UH Cancer Center in 2018. He has also held an emeritus professorship in the Office of Public Health Studies since 2013.

Kolonel served for 30 years as director of the epidemiology program at the Cancer Center. He is a world-renowned scholar in the fields of epidemiology and prostate cancer, and has published more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Kolonel was honored with an R-37 MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health for his research on diet and cancer. In 2013, he received the prestigious American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention from the American Association for Cancer Research. He is also the co-founder of the Multiethnic Cohort Study, which follows more than 215,000 participants for health events in Hawaiʻi and California.


Dr. Laurence Kolonel, <br >Professor Emeritus, UH Cancer Center
Dr. Laurence Kolonel,
Professor Emeritus,
UH Cancer Center

News Highlights

September 20, 2018

New researcher joins UH Cancer Center faculty

The UH Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology Program welcomed Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD, as an associate researcher in June. “I was drawn to Hawai‘i because of its ethnic diversity and the abundance of natural products that fuels my research interests,” said Fabbri.

Fabbri’s research focuses on trying to understand the relationship between cancer cells and other surrounding cells including immune cells, cells that form blood vessel walls, and fibroblast cells that form collagen in the “tumor microenvironment”. Recently it has been found that the tumor microenvironment contributes to the growth of cancer cells.

In 2012, Fabbri discovered that cancer cells secrete microRNAs inside of tiny fluid-filled sacs called exosomes. He showed that exosomes can shuttle microRNAs from cancer cells to surrounding immune cells that carry a protein called TLR8. As a consequence of the interaction, a specific subtype of immune cells called macrophages stop fighting the growth of cancer cells and start secreting other proteins and other microRNAs that promote cancer cell growth, dissemination and resistance to therapy.

Fabbri’s research goal is to develop strategies to interrupt this communication between cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment in order to inhibit cancer growth and the development of resistance to treatment.


Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD
Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD

News Highlights

October 30, 2018

Study discovers longer patient survival rates in mesothelioma patients with hereditary mutations


HONOLULUMichele Carbone, MD, PhD, and his team at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center discovered that mesothelioma, a usually very aggressive cancer, is much less aggressive when detected in patients who carry hereditary mutations.

Michele Carbone, MD, PhD

“On average patients who carry hereditary mutations and develop mesothelioma survive five to 10 years more than the majority of mesothelioma patients that survive for only six to 18 months. Understanding the genetic mutation that caused the cancer gives us hope that we can create new targeted therapies available for specific genetic alterations that can prolong the life of these patients even more,” said Carbone, principal investigator of the study.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers most of the internal organs, the disease is often caused by exposure to asbestos. The hereditary mutations also called germline mutations are gene changes in a body’s reproductive cell that becomes incorporated into the DNA of every cell in the body of the offspring. These mutations are passed on from parents to children according to the National Cancer Institute.

The study published in Journal of Clinical Oncology highlights the understanding of hereditary mutations, which can help physicians give patients a clearer idea of what they can expect from their diagnosis. Importantly, family members of patients who carry this gene can get screened to identify if they are carriers of the germline mutations. If they are carriers they can be monitored for early cancer detection.

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The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. It is one of only 70 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.

Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

News Highlights

October 29, 2018

Laurence N. Kolonel Endowed Research Professorship


Dr. Laurence N. Kolonel speaking at the 25th anniversary of the Multiethnic Cohort Study at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center
Dr. Laurence N. Kolonel speaking at the 25th anniversary of the Multiethnic Cohort Study
at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center


The UH Cancer Center has embarked on a goal to raise $500,000 through philanthropy in honor of Laurence N. Kolonel, MD, PhD, professor emeritus at the UH Cancer Center.

Kolonel served for 30 years as director of the epidemiology program at the Cancer Center. He is a world-renowned scholar in the fields of epidemiology and prostate cancer, and has published more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Kolonel was honored by the National Institutes of Health for his world-class research on diet and cancer. In 2013, he received the prestigious American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention from the American Association for Cancer Research. He is also the co-founder of the Multiethnic Cohort Study, which follows more than 215,000 participants for health events in Hawaiʻi and California. He has been the esteemed mentor of many trainees and junior faculty in population sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi and elsewhere.

Funds will establish the Laurence Kolonel Endowed Research Professorship at the Cancer Center. This endowed professorship will provide support for a promising junior faculty researcher in cancer epidemiology. The recipient of the professorship will receive annual support from the proceeds of the endowment for three years to aid in their career development and provide research support critical for a junior academic investigator. After three years, the professorship will rotate to another junior researcher. The selection committee will be comprised of members of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at the UH Cancer Center. Each investigator selected will carry the designation as Laurence N. Kolonel Scholar.

For more information or to make a monetary donation, please contact Todd Cullison, Associate Director of Development at 808-356-5757 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .