During 2022 , the University of Hawai ‘ i Cancer Center made several adjustments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while searching for a permanent director . Thanks to the incredible dedication of everyone , the Center remained focus on its mission and , indeed , achieved significant progress .
As part of COVID-19 ’ s “ Great Resignation ” movement by which a large number of clinical professionals at U . S . cancer centers left research to work in healthcare , the UH Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office ( CTO ) experienced a tremendous staff turnover , with a low in Spring 2022 when only half of the staff remained . The CTO , under the exceptional leadership of Dr . Jonathan Cho , has made tremendous strides in rebuilding its programs . This was only possible through the hard work of many people , including the remaining CTO staff , the HR and administrative staff , and retired CTO personnel who generously agreed to come back to train the new staff . All these individuals have been an inspiration for the entire Center .
In the fall , we successfully completed the search for a new director , Dr . Naoto Ueno , who joined us in mid-December . Dr . Ueno is a breast cancer oncologist who relocated from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center . He is internationally renowned in pre-clinical and clinical research . It is hard to imagine a better-suited individual to take clinical research in Hawai ‘ i to a new level . Our vision , shared with our partners , remains to improve cancer care by bringing new treatments to Hawai ‘ i , considering our unique setting and community needs , and addressing the shortage of oncology professionals in the state .
Earlier in the year , we also recruited Dr . Xin Chen , an internationally renowned liver cancer researcher who brings her expertise to bear on the high incidence of this lethal malignancy in the Pacific .
The UH Cancer Center is the only one of the 71 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers in the nation that is completely focused on reducing the cancer burden in Hawai ‘ i and the U . S . Associated Pacific Islands .
Loïc Le Marchand , MD , PhD
In 2022 , UH Cancer Center faculty were again very successful in competing for new funding . They brought to the University of Hawai ‘ i over $ 45 million in federal grants for new research to be conducted over the next five years . We also strengthened programs directly serving our underserved communities by creating the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement which is led by Dr . Kevin Cassel , who has over 25 years of experience practicing cancer education research in Hawai ‘ i . Finally , the faculty continued its educational mission , supervising students and research trainees .
I was privileged to lead the UH Cancer Center as Interim Director for almost six months . I am honored to have served this wonderful community of faculty , staff , and students , along with our partners in Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific , all working toward the common goal of eliminating the suffering and mortality from cancer in our islands .
Loïc Le Marchand , MD , PhD Interim Director