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June 17, 2016


HONOLULU – Twenty-six high school and college students will conduct cancer research at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center this summer.

The interns were chosen through a highly competitive process from public and private schools across the state and the nation. They will do everything from analyze bioinformatics to examine cancer prevention and control measures.

The UH Cancer Center's program attracts a large pool of applicants. Out of 90 applicants 26 were selected this summer, an increase from 19 chosen last session.

"This valuable opportunity connects students from Hawai'i with faculty mentors who can assist them as they progress in their science careers and studies. The experience will hopefully encourage these bright and determined young students to join Hawai'i's science and technology workforce," said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and interim director of the UH Cancer Center.

Nearly 70 percent of the interns this summer are underrepresented minority students in Hawai'i who are interested in pursuing their careers in cancer research. The participating CURE students are comprised of 23 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, 46 percent Filipinos, and 4 percent American Indian/Hispanic, with an average GPA of 3.92.

Of 67 previous interns interviewed in 2012, 23 had received an advanced degree and 42 percent said they were pursuing a career in cancer research.

The interns will complete an independent project, and receive a stipend for their work, which takes place over a two-month span.

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Intern highlight
Nicholas Young, University of Portland, graduate of Kamehameha. "I wanted to learn more about cancer, especially in Hawai'i. In my family there has been a lot of cases of cancer. This is a good opportunity to learn more about it, and to turn around and educate others about it. I'm exited to be in the lab, I want to give back to Hawai'i and try to be a doctor."

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Sidney Vermulen, Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island.
"It's a great opportunity as a high school student to learn more about science and to see what it would be like in the workforce. Science is my favorite subject especially biology and chemistry. I like research because it gives you the ability to discover something new which I think is exciting."

Madavrolyn Tausa, Roosevelt High School.
"I'm in my senior year of high school and I'm looking to go to medical school. I'm hoping to get fieldwork in cancer research. This is a great opportunity to get exposed to medicine."

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The Cancer Center internship program is supported in part by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG), CURE supplement, and an endowment from the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company.

UH Cancer Center Summer Interns
The 19 college interns are:
Kirsten Antonio-Tolentino (St. Andrew's Priory), from Creighton University;
Alyssa Basdavanos (Punahou), from University of Miami;
Christian Bautista (Moanalua), from Leeward Community College;
Taylor Cabral (Punahou), from University of Southern California;
Gerald Blaise Corpuz (Campbell), from UH Mānoa;
Chase Dugay (Punahou), from Loyola Marymount University;
Jordan Fernandez (Kapolei), from Washington State University;
Angelique Fontaine (Kamehameha), from UH Mānoa;
Alyssa Fujiwara (St. Andrew's Priory), from UH Mānoa;
Katie Lee (Sacred Hearts Academy), from UH Mānoa;
Kirsten Lum (Hawaii Baptist Academy), from Vanguard University;
Desiree Joi Mateo (Waipahu), from UH Mānoa;
Frances Wella Chel Morana (Waipahu), from University of San Francisco;
Tamara Ohta (Punahou), from University of Portland;
Alyssa Poentis (Punahou), from New York University;
Brandan Sakka (Iolani), from University of Southern California;
Tori Teramae (Iolani), from Creighton University;
Christina Tse (Iolani), from Bryn Mawr College;
Nicholas Young (Kamehameha), from University of Portland.

The seven high school interns are:
Stephanie Araki (Kamehameha);
Nikki Cablay (Waipahu);
Gabrielle Dang (Waipahu);
Shaylin Marn (Kamehameha);
Chandler Nunokawa (Kamehameha);
Madavrolyn Tausa (Roosevelt);
Sidney Vermuelen (Hawaii Preparatory).

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The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. This is equivalent to supporting 776 jobs. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care.
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