UH Cancer Center receives $1.36M grant to provide cancer research training

August 10, 2020

Gertraud Maskarinec

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center has received a five-year Research Education Program Grant (R25) totaling $1.36 million from the National Institutes of Health for “Cancer Research Education, Advancement, Training and Empowerment” (CREATE). This program will provide mentorship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students living in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific through hands-on cancer research experience.

Establishing the CREATE training program at the UH Cancer Center will address the over-arching goal of enhancing the training of a workforce to meet biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs to lower cancer incidence and mortality in the Pacific. The program will be led by Gertraud Maskarinec, M.D., Ph.D., UH Cancer Center associate director for Research Education, Joe W. Ramos, Ph.D., UH Cancer Center deputy director, and Joseph Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula

CREATE will utilize the knowledge and talents of 40 UH Cancer Center faculty members, who will mentor students and provide them with an intensive 10-week hands-on research experience. Throughout the 10 weeks, students will be taught using a curriculum of multidisciplinary seminars, workshops and career development sessions.

The goal of the training program is to increase the number of students pursuing a career in cancer research, and to advance their careers by empowering them with new skills. Students will learn how to address health disparities and collaborate in multidisciplinary projects. Research training within Hawaiʻi’s multiethnic environment and the UH Cancer Center's unique cancer biology labs will better the abilities of program participants to address causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer.

Joe W. Ramos

The annual program aims to mentor 16 undergraduate students during the summer, two graduate students during the fall semester and another two graduate students during the spring. These participants will be residents of Hawaiʻi and Guam, and include students from UH, other universities within the state, colleges on the continental U.S. and the University of Guam. In providing new training opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, the program also seeks to increase diversity in research personnel.

CREATE builds upon the many years of success of the UH Cancer Center’s Summer Internship Program, which has provided research experiences to more than 220 students over the last 10 years. The new training program will offer students in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific a valuable research experience that will enable them to pursue successful careers in cancer biology, epidemiology, prevention, control and clinical sciences.