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News Highlights

July 20, 2016

Remembering U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai

It is with great sadness that we note the death of U.S. Rep. Mark Takai after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Takai was a champion for cancer research and Hawai'i.

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In a message just weeks ago, he shared his support for the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Kakaʻako.

His message read, "I will never forget receiving the news that I had a tumor in my pancreas. Now that I am fighting my own battle with pancreatic cancer, I am truly fortunate and grateful that there are those who have devoted their lives to finding a cure. Each breakthrough in cancer research leads us one step closer to ending cancer."

We at the University of Hawaiʻi are committed to continuing our efforts to find more effective treatments and earlier detection methods for cancers including those of the pancreas.

Every year in Hawaiʻi, there are about 225 newly diagnosed cases of the devastating disease and some 182 deaths. (Source: Hawaii Tumor Registry data from 2009-2013)

Pancreatic cancer is more common with increasing age and slightly more common in men than women, according to National Institutes of Health.

The thoughts of us at the UH Cancer Center and John A. Burns School of Medicine are, first and foremost, with Rep. Takaiʻs loving family and friends.

Inspired anew by Congressman Takaiʻs support while on Capitol Hill, we will never give up the battle to eliminate cancer.

As the congressman said earlier this year, when he announced that the UH Cancer Center and JABSOM were awarded Department of Defense (DoD) grants for cancer research and career development,

"… I have a strong appreciation for the dedicated researchers that are working towards a cure," said Takai.

Mahalo and Aloha, Congressman Takai.


News Highlights

June 7, 2016


HONOLULU – University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers received more than $5.5 million R01 NCI-grants spanning several years for research that includes e-cigarettes and bladder cancer. The grants will help reach the goal of reducing the burden of cancer in Hawai'i and across the nation through research and improved patient care.

"R01 grants are extremely competitive, receiving these grants are great accomplishments. The research will help us continue to generate Hawai'i specific cancer findings to residents in the state," said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and interim director of the UH Cancer Center.

The UH Cancer Center along with only 68 other NCI-designated cancer centers compete successfully every year for 75 to 85% of the NCI's $4.8 billion extramural funds. Cancer Center affiliated investigators secure an average of $20 million of national grants annually to support cancer research in Hawai'i.

Pallav Pokhrel, E-cigarette Marketing Research
Pallav Pokhrel, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program received a five-year $2.5 million R01 NCI-grant to study the impact of e-cigarette marketing on the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of young adults (18-29 year olds) in Hawai'i. The knowledge gained from this study will scientifically inform tobacco control policies and tobacco use prevention and treatment efforts in Hawai'i and across the U.S.

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"This will be the first large research project to study the use of different tobacco products among Hawai'i young adults. Like the rest of the U.S., young adults in Hawai'i are at higher risk for tobacco product misuse when compared with other age groups," said Pokhrel.

Young adults appear to be the main targets of e-cigarette marketing campaigns according to Pokhrel. They also show the most widespread use of e-cigarettes in the U.S., as e-cigarettes face limited regulations.

This study will collect surveys and other types of data from more than 2,000 college students in Hawai'i, including current cigarette smokers, non-smokers, and former smokers every six months over approximately two years.

Dr. Charles Rosser, Bladder Cancer Research
Dr. Charles Rosser, professor and director of the Clinical Trials Office and director of the Clinical and Translational Research Program received a five-year more than $3 million R01 NCI-grant to research a urine based bladder cancer detection test that could determine those at risk for the disease. The test could help determine those who may require more invasive evaluation and tests, and reduce the need for other large number of patients who would not have to do uncomfortable and expensive examinations. The test is expected to be more reliable and accurate than other tests in patients who have a history of bladder cancer, who are on lifetime tumor surveillance, as well as in patients with obvious blood in their urine.

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The grant for the study, "Multiplexed Protein Biomarker-Based Assay for the Detection of Bladder Cancer," will provide funding to perform a clinical trial to determine the accuracy of the test. Funds will be used to perform the trial in Hawai'i and UT Southwestern in Dallas. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center will help collect and analyze data.

Bladder cancer is a major problem in Hawai'i, approximately 200 residents are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01CA202277, R01CA198887. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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. This is equivalent to supporting 776 jobs. It is one of only 69 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, and improved patient care.
Learn more at Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.


News Highlights

June 30, 2016


University of Hawai'i Cancer Center hosted one of hundreds of summits held around the country on June 29 in conjunction with the Cancer Moonshot Summit held in Washington, DC. The goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care over the next five years and to ultimately end cancer as we know it.

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Vice President Joe Biden
"The Moonshot cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, one discipline, or even one collective approach," Vice President Biden said. "Solving the complexities of cancer will require the formation of new alliances to defy the bounds of innovation and accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and — ultimately — a cure. It's going to require millions of Americans speaking Up and contributing what they're able. That's what the Cancer Moonshot Summit is all about."

Goal of the Summit
The Cancer Moonshot Summit was aimed at creating action and fostering collaborations around the goals of the Cancer Moonshot. The Summit will be the very first time that stakeholders representing all types of cancers will convene under one national charge. Attendees at Summits across the nation include leaders representing the entire cancer community–including researchers, doctors, scientists, philanthropists, community oncologists, advocates, patients, and survivors.

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"I will never forget receiving the news that I had a tumor in my pancreas. Now that I am fighting my own battle with pancreatic cancer, I am truly fortunate and grateful that there are those who have devoted their lives to finding a cure. Each breakthrough in cancer research leads us one step closer to ending cancer," said Congressman Mark Takai.

"This nationwide collaboration to both find a cure for cancer and help us deliver innovative treatments more broadly will get us closer to finding better treatments for Hawai'i residents. We must improve our efforts to fight the disease that is the second leading cause of death in Hawai'i," said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and interim director of the UH Cancer Center.

For additional photos from the event, click here


News Highlights

June 3, 2016

$20 Million Potential Donation to UH Cancer Center

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center may potentially receive $20 million from the Friends of the UH Cancer Center board member Virginia Weinman and her husband, Barry Weinman.

"But only on the condition that the (National Cancer Institute) designation is not in jeopardy, which it will be if we don't have a new director appointed immediately," said Weinman to the regents in public testimony.

At the meeting on June 2, the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents approved Dr. Randall F. Holcombe as UH Cancer Center director. A formal offer was made to Holcombe.

Generous and forward thinking philanthropists, Barry & Virginia Weinman, provide funds to the Cancer Center for several purposes, all directed towards advancing innovations in cancer research. They created an endowment to bring to Hawai'i some of the best cancer researchers to work collaboratively in our research laboratories with our scientists. Their funds also support the Weinman Symposium, which is held once a year, and a weekly/bi-weekly lecture series whereby prominent researchers deliver a major lecture at the UH Cancer Center.