Director's Welcome

I am honored to be Director of an exceptional Cancer Center at the University of Hawaiʻi.  The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center was established in 1971 and designated formally as an Organized Research Unit within the University in 1981.  It relocated to a new building on the Kakaʻako campus in 2013.  While primarily a research unit, the UH Cancer Center also maintains a strong clinical focus, providing access to clinical trials in cooperation with members of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium that was established in 2010.  NCI designation was obtained in 1996 and has been maintained continually since that time.

UH Cancer Director, Randall F. Holcombe
Randall F. Holcombe,
UH Cancer Center Director

The mission of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is to reduce the burden of cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural and environmental characteristics of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.  The UH Cancer Center conducts research that is specifically relevant to the cancer problems affecting the people of Hawaiʻi, working to understand the influence of ethnic diversity on both the incidence of cancer and on patient outcomes, to identify the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer, to engage the community in cancer prevention and cancer education programs and to provide an infrastructure for access to cutting edge clinical trials for patients affected by this disease.

The UH Cancer Center has two research programs – Population Sciences in the Pacific and Cancer Biology – each with components focused on discovery and interventionPopulation Sciences supports an internationally acclaimed research group in cancer epidemiology and faculty focused on behavioral interventions for cancer prevention.  Cancer Biology supports basic laboratory studies on carcinogenesis and gene-environment interactions, as well as clinically focused translational research group directing clinical trials for cancer patients and survivors.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us.  The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact on the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center and on cancer patients, and individuals at risk for cancer, across the State of Hawaiʻi.  Despite the challenges, we have pushed forward with research aimed at reducing the burden of cancer for the people of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.  UH Cancer Center researchers have continued to make seminal discoveries in the areas of cancer biology, epidemiology and cancer prevention and treatment.  Our work focuses on our unique population, with outreach to rural neighbor islands and across the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands with renewal of the Pacific Island Partnership for Cancer Health Equity.  The pandemic presented huge challenges for clinical and community-based research, and in response we have developed new methods in order to provide opportunities to participate in novel treatment, screening, prevention and cancer care delivery trials sponsored by the Cancer Center.   In addition, we initiated new areas of research to examine the impact of the pandemic specifically on cancer patients.

2021 marks the UH Cancer Center’s 50th Anniversary and the 25th year of continuous designation by the National Cancer Institute.  This coming year, while we will celebrate our past accomplishments, we will continue moving forward with new discoveries and development of new initiatives to reduce the burden of cancer here in Hawaiʻi and across the greater Pacific.  The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is a collaborative, community-focused and scientifically exceptional cancer research center that is unique among all of the 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the US.  It is a resource committed to the people of Hawaiʻi and is, truly, a "Gem in the Pacific".


Randall F. Holcombe, MD MBA