Kevin Cassel, DrPH

Kevin Cassel, DrPH, MPH

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Associate Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center
Full Member, Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Associate Professor (Associate Researcher), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

DrPH, Community-based Translational Research, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Department of Public Health, Honolulu, HI
MPH, Epidemiology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Department of Public Health, Honolulu, HI

Research Focus

Over the past decade cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined in the US, however cancer-related health disparities by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic location still exist. Dr. Cassel's research explores ways to implement effective cancer control interventions by working with communities experiencing cancer health disparities. Dr. Cassel uses community-based participatory research methods to:

  1. Develop and test ways to improve clinical trials participation.
  2. Adapt and test cancer prevention and control interventions in medically underserved communities.
  3. Engage with young people to adapt and test cancer prevention interventions.

This line of research may have a substantial impact on reducing cancer health disparities and the overall burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi and the U. S. Associated Pacific Island jurisdictions.

Selected Publications

Anzai NE, Wieland J, Kasuya RT, Higuchi P, Cassel K. (2023). Medical School Clinical Trials Educational Intervention: Impact on Knowledge and Attitudes. J Cancer Educ. May 11.

Glanz K, Kwong PL, Avelis J, Cassel K. (2022). Development of a Survey of Sunscreen Use and Attitudes among Adults in Two Coastal States, 2019. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Feb 25;19(5):2677.

Willingham ML Jr, Spencer SYPK, Lum CA, Navarro Sanchez JM, Burnett T, Shepherd J, Cassel K. (2021). The potential of using artificial intelligence to improve skin cancer diagnoses in Hawai'i's multiethnic population. Melanoma Res; Dec 1;31(6):504-514. PubMed PMID: 34744150; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8580213.

Cassel K, Willingham M, Lee HR, Somera LP, Badowski G, Pagano I. (2020). Acculturation and Cancer Risk Behaviors among Pacific Islanders in Hawaii. Ethn Dis; Sep 24;30(4):593-602. doi: 10.18865/ed.30.4.593. eCollection 2020 Fall.PMID: 32989359.

Okado I, Cassel K, Pagano I, Holcombe RF. (2020). Assessing Patients' Perceptions of Cancer Care Coordination in a Community-Based Setting. JCO Oncol Pract; Aug;16(8):e726-e733. doi: 10.1200/JOP.19.00509. Epub 2020 Mar 27. PMID: 32216713.

Cassel KD, Hughes C, Higuchi P, Lee P, Fagan P, Lono J, Ho R, Wong N, Brady SK, Ahuna W.(2020). No Ke Ola Pono o Nā Kāne: A Culturally Grounded Approach to Promote Health Improvement in Native Hawaiian Men. Am J Mens Health; Jan-Feb;14(1):1557988319893886. doi: 10.1177/1557988319893886. PMID: 32008466.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

K. Cassel, Core Co-PI; N. Palafox, B. Hernandez, Co-PIs
NIH/NCI U54 CA143727
“Pacific Island Partnership for Cancer Health Equity (PIPCHE) – Community Outreach Core”
The objectives of the Community Outreach Core are to include Pacific Island Populations’ community perspectives to assist and promote the research of the Partnership, build the competencies of healthcare providers serving Pacific Island Populations, and help train new cadres of cancer researchers and care providers from Pacific Island Populations.
09/01/2020 – 08/31/2025

K. Cassel, PI
Hawaii Community Foundation
Ku Ola.
This project has successfully used the hale mua concept since 2010 to establish health-activated support groups for Hawaiian men using Hawaiian cultural values. This project intends to expand the scope and capacity of the hale mua using technology and innovation. We will focus on enriching the cultural and health promotional aspects of Ku Ola by providing a permanent venue to convene kane for the regularly scheduled delivery of our cultural and educational modules.
12/01/22 – 11/30/2025

K. Cassel, Co-Investigator; A. Maunakea, M. Mau, Co-PIs
NHLBI /1UG3HL 169657-01
Pacific Ocean Native Observational (PONO) Health Legacy Study
This study will be the "first-ever" NH and Pl cohort designed to study CPM health using populomics approaches that hold promise for unraveling and resolving persistent health inequities in these understudied populations. 3) As part of the larger cohort our PONO Study will enable opportunities to test multiple hypotheses relevant to CPM and will provide opportunities for ESI and community-based researchers to gain experience to organically grow" the next generation of scientists focused on AsAm-NH-PI in the USA and globally.
08/01/2023 – 07/31/2025

K. Cassel, Core Co-PI; L. Wu, Y. Deng, Co-PIs
NHGRI / 1U54HG013243-01
The Pacific Center for Genome Research (PCGR).
PCGR will foster genome research excellence and grow and support the Genomic Research workforce at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) by providing didactic, practicum, and research activities and experiences that are aligned with the research projects. PCGR research will be integrated with the culturally sensitive engagement of and partnering with stakeholders in our local Native Hawaiian (NH) communities. The overall goal of PCGR is to foster excellence in genome research, genomic workforce development, and community engagement in Hawaiʻi.
Role: Community Outreach Core Leader
09/01/2023 – 05/31/2028

K. Cassel, Core Co-PI; L. Le Marchand, J. Berenberg, Co-PIs
NCI / 1P20CA275734-01A1
Hawaii Minority Health and Cancer Disparities (SPORE).
The goal of this planning grant is to establish a Specialized Program of Research Excellence to conduct translational research focusing on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI).PROJECT 1: Mitigating lung cancer disparities in Native Hawaiians— a population-based approach to evaluate prevention barriers and lung tumor biology
PROJECT 2: Inter-Relationships and Prognostic Significance of Breast Cancer Radiomic Risk Features, Tissue Microenvironment, and Adiposity
09/01/2023 – 07/31 2026

K. Cassel, Director, Community Outreach and Engagement Office; N. Ueno, PI
NIH/NCI P30CA071789
University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center Cancer Center Support Grant.
The mission of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center (UHCC) 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. UHCC supports an infrastructure to translate basic, translational and population-based discovery to clinical and public health practice, facilitate access to novel cancer clinical, prevention and community trials, and engage the medical community, and the community at large, in order to advance the science and practice of cancer risk assessment, cancer prevention, cancer treatment, and cancer healthcare delivery.
07/01/2019 – 06/30/2024

K. Cassel, Co-I; L. LeMarchand, PI
NCI / R01CA258179
Effects of Intermittent Energy Restriction on Intra-Abdominal Fat and the Gut Microbiome: A Randomized Trial.
This study will propose an expanded, 24-week, randomized trial to compare intermittent energy restriction (IER) to daily energy restriction (ER) in reducing intra-abdominal fat and total body fat and in improving cancer-related biomarkers and gut microbiome functions, as well as to better understand behavioral predictors of adherence to IER.
08/31/2021 – 07/31/2026

K. Cassel, Core PI; L. Wilkens (PI)
NCI / 5U24CA268228-02
Traditional and Novel Dietary Assessment Methods (TANDAM)
Diversity Research And Recruitment Shared Resource (DRRSR)
The diversity research core specializes in developing and testing methods to improve participation and engagement of medically underserved and rural communities in research. The DRRSR, specializes in the development of effective written and video-based communications. Thus, we will work with this core to develop effective and expert-based communications to deliver the training for staff to implement the dietary assessment methods and videos stylized for users (the study volunteers).
10/01/2022 – 09/30/2026

K. Cassel, Co-I; L. Wilkens, PI
NCI / R01MD017762
Understanding the Impact of Structural Racism on Racial/Ethnic Inequities in Mortality: The Multiethnic Cohort Study.
This study will investigate the contribution of structural racism to mortality among Black, Hispanic/Latino, Japanese American, and Native Hawaiian adults, leveraging the well-characterized and racial/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse Multiethnic Cohort Study in Southern California and Hawaiʻi. New measures of structural racism including variables from housing, education, employment, criminal justice, political participation, and healthcare will be developed to reflect the experiences of each racial/ethnic group
04/01/2023 – 03/ 31/2028