Innovations Spring 2019 | Page 2


The biggest global health crisis in low and lower-middle income countries is no longer infectious diseases but the dramatic increases in non-communicable diseases ( NCDs ) such as cancer . In contrast to upper-middle and high income countries , the number of annual deaths due to cancer is steadily rising in the poorest countries in the world , placing a burden that impacts not only health but also economic development . In these countries , NCDs account for 1.6 times as many premature deaths as malaria , tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS combined .

The burden of cancer is great across a vast region in the Pacifc ( the US-Afliated Pacifc Island Jurisdictions or USAPIJ ) that consists of three Flag Territories ( Guam , American Sāmoa , Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands ) and three Freely Associated States ( Federated States of Micronesia , Republic of the Marshall Islands , Republic of Belau ( Palau )). The expanse of the USAPIJ is twice the size of the continental U . S ., crosses fve time zones and the international date line , has a population of approximately 600,000 people and has 3,000 new cancer cases annually .
Because of the lack of modern cancer treatment , the greatest impact to reduce the burden of cancer across the Pacifc is through cancer prevention and control . This involves a mix of activities to improve infrastructure , provide education about screening and lifestyle factors that contribute to cancer incidence , and direct behavioral and preventative interventions . The University of Hawai ‘ i Cancer Center has provided a leadership role in these eforts through collaborations with the Cancer Council of the Pacifc Islands and through a number of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health-supported research programs . The UH Cancer Center has built on existing relationships in Guam and American Sāmoa , established the Trans-Pacifc Partnership for Cancer Prevention , conducted clinical research focused on reducing the use of carcinogenic betel nut , and worked to improve cervical cancer screening in the region . These initiatives have a broad mission dedicated to the development of and the promotion of culturallyappropriate , evidence-based cancer prevention and control activities . Through community partnerships , the UH Cancer Center , among all of the 70 NCI-designated cancer centers , is the leader in working to reduce the burden of cancer across the Pacifc .
SHARP students visit the lab of Muller Fabbri , PhD .
UH Hilo SHARP students visit UH Cancer Center

In January , members of the University of Hawai ‘ i Hilo

Students of Hawai ‘ i Advanced Research Program ( SHARP ) visited the UH Cancer Center .
The visit included lab tours and presentations about cancer statistics and Hawai ‘ i specifc cancer research . UH Cancer Center graduate students and postdoctoral trainees also shared their academic and career journeys in cancer research with the prospective young researchers from UH Hilo .
SHARP is federally funded by the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) Research Initiative for Scientifc Enhancement ( RISE ). Its goal is to increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students , particularly Native Hawaiians , Pacifc Islanders , Hispanics ( includes Filipinos ), African Americans , Native Americans and Alaskans , and students with disabilities in biomedical and biobehavioral sciences research and ultimately obtain their bachelors and doctoral degrees at UH Hilo . Aloha ,
Randall F . Holcombe , MD , MBA Director
Quest for a Cure highlighted emerging research on cancer and the human microbiome

In November 2018 , the 8th Annual Quest for a Cure was held at the UH Cancer Center . The free community education event focused on the human microbiome ( bacteria ) and its relationship to health and diseases such as cancer . Topics included eforts to prevent infections in the digestive tract , health conditions infuenced by the oral microbiome , how the gut microbiome infuences metabolism , and how gut bacteria is critically involved in the development of chronic liver disease .

Presenters included Margaret McFall-Ngai , PhD , director of the Pacifc Biosciences Research Center at UH Mānoa , and UH Cancer Center researchers Scott Kuwada , MD , Brenda Hernandez , PhD , MPH , Carol Boushey , PhD , Loic Le Marchand , PhD , and Wei Jia , PhD .
Margaret McFall-Ngai , PhD , addressed the Quest audience .