Population Sciences in the Pacific Program

The Population Sciences in the Pacific (PSP) Program conducts population research to understand the reasons why cancer incidences and mortality vary substantially across different racial/ethnic populations in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. From this understanding, researchers in PSP further study intervention strategies to prevent cancer and improve the survival and life quality of cancer patients in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. The specific research areas that PSP focuses on are diet, nutrition, lifestyle, infectious agents, obesity, substance use (tobacco, e-cigarette, and betel nut), genetic susceptibility, molecular features and microbiome characteristics. PSP also studies cancer risk in relation to behavioral and psychosocial factors as well as cultural influences and community's impact on cancer prevention. Cancer survivorship is also a focus of PSP research in order to improve disease outcome and prolong patient survival. Consistent with the research focus, PSP has expertise in nutritional epidemiology, molecular/genetic epidemiology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, population genetics, molecular biology, metabolomics, clinical/health psychology, public health and medicine. Program members are also in close interaction and collaboration with cell/molecular biologists, geneticists, biochemists, pathologists, clinicians and various other investigators within the UH Cancer Center, in other departments of the University of Hawaiʻi, and at other academic centers and government agencies outside Hawai'i.

UH Cancer Center Cancer Epidemiology group
Left to right (back row): Lenora Loo, Gertraud Maskarinec, Loic Le Marchand, Yurii Shvetsov, Carol Boushey, Herbert Yu, Gordon Okimoto (front row): Brenda Hernandez, Unhee Lim, Lynne Wilkens, Lana Garmire, Song Yi Park

Over the years, PSP has established several valuable resources for population-based research which include a state-wide tumor registry (Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry), a population-based prospective cohort (Multiethnic Cohort), and a community-based outreach network. As gene-environment interaction is a force in cancer development, PSP has also developed laboratory facilities to measure genetic and molecular factors associated with cancer risk or tumor progression and effects of behavioral and lifestyle interventions for cancer prevention and survivorship.

UH Cancer Center Cancer Prevention group
Left to right (back row): Mark Willingham, Simone Schmid, Leslie Welsh, Tony Lam, Kevin Cassel, Randall Holcombe, Thomas Wills, Ian Pagano (front row): Crissy Terawaki Kawamoto, Gabriela Layi, Lana Sue Ka‘opua, Erin Bantum, Angela Sy, Stephanie Rania, Hazvinei Murasiranwa, Srue Wakuk, Carol Thompson, Maria Sgro