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October 19, 2012

V Foundation funding supports colorectal cancer research

Unhee Lim
Unhee Lim of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is the recipient of a 2012 V Scholar Grant.
Unhee Lim, a University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher and assistant professor of cancer epidemiology, was recently awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant to support her efforts to better diagnose and prevent colorectal cancer, especially in high-risk groups in Hawaiʻi.

Lim is one of only 17 nationwide selected to receive the grant from The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, the legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator who lost his own battle with cancer.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research is one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations. The V Scholar Grants Program typically awards two-year, $200,000 grants to outstanding young researchers across the nation.

The $3.4 million initiative, which funds “rising star” physicians and scientists as they begin their careers in cancer research, is an important and compelling component of The V Foundation’s overall grant objective.

Identifying markers for colorectal cancer

The funding will assist Lim in determining whether the amount of methyl-groups attached on DNA in people’s blood cells indicate a higher risk of subsequently developing cancer in the large intestine, more often referred to as colorectal cancer.

In Hawaiʻi, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in males and the third leading cause of cancer death in females.

The novel aspect of Lim’s study is that it tests easily obtainable blood samples to measure epigenetic markers in people before they develop cancer in the colon or rectum.

An equal number of cancer patients and healthy people will be studied from the Multiethnic Cohort, one of the largest ongoing population studies in the world with health information on over 215,000 Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, African Americans, Latinos and whites. The study may also contribute to the understanding if epigenetic changes are responsible for the different rates of colon cancer observed across different ethnic groups.

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