University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center Project Will Diversify the Hawaiʻi Economy

July 22, 2020

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s efforts to construct an Early Phase Clinical Research Center will have a profound and positive economic impact on the State of Hawaiʻi and help in diversifying our economy.

With support from the state Legislature and a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the UH Cancer Center is constructing a Clinical Research Center in shell space contiguous with the Cancer Center building in Kaka‘ako. This project, being done in collaboration with clinical members of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium, will provide access to novel, cutting-edge, early phase clinical trials and allow cancer patients to get these treatments here in Hawaiʻi and avoid the time and expense of traveling to the mainland, while being separated from family and friends. These types of trials represent the first-in-human stage of developing new cancer treatments and are essential for patients with cancers that are particularly difficult to treat or who have failed to respond adequately to standard therapies.

$38.5 million dollars economic impact over the next 10 years“Our patients and our oncology provider colleagues have recognized the critical need for access to early phase (phase I) trials, and we are appreciative of the tremendous support we have received for this effort from our collaborating physicians, the members of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium and the state Legislature, especially Senator Breene Harimoto, who was a champion of this project and recently lost his battle with cancer,” said Dr. Randall Holcombe, director of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center.

The project will provide a substantial economic impact of $38.5 million over the next 10 years, with an ongoing annual contribution of nearly $6 million thereafter. It will generate 30-40 short-term construction-related jobs over the next three to four years and 67 long-term, stable, well-paying jobs once operational. The economic analysis, provided by Emsi, a leading provider of economic impact studies in the U.S. and internationally, demonstrates that this research project will aid in diversifying the Hawaiʻi economy and make it less dependent on tourism.

Cliff Martin, associate director for administration at the UH Cancer Center, notes that “architectural designs are in progress, and we are working with the National Institutes of Health and local stakeholders to ensure that we develop a Center that is most in alignment with the needs of the people of Hawaiʻi.”

The Early Phase Clinical Research Center will also facilitate new avenues for basic cancer research and drug development. “We are also creating a ‘tumor organoid’ facility that will generate patient-based tumor models in the laboratory that are more representative of our unique population here in Hawaiʻi, and thereby develop and test potential new treatments specifically with our population in mind,” said Joe W. Ramos, Ph.D., deputy director of the UH Cancer Center.

Build out and construction of the shell space is proposed to begin in 2021.

More about the Early Phase Clinical Research Center in the video below:

Below are artist renderings of the Early Phase Clinical Research Center interior