First Insurance Charitable Foundation Donates $125,000 for UH Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trials

February 24, 2021

Left to right: Randall Holcombe, Jeff Shonka, Lynne Wooddell

The First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH) Charitable Foundation has donated $125,000 to support the UH Cancer Center’s new state-of-the-art Early Phase Clinical Research Center. This center will provide access to phase 1 clinical trials for cancer patients in Hawaiʻi so they do not have to travel to the continental U.S. for specialized treatments.

FICOH President and CEO Jeff Shonka said, “As a Hawai‘i company and employer, we feel it is imperative for us to invest in research that will have tangible benefits for our community. So many people in Hawai‘i are personally impacted by cancer each year. This is our way of helping find new lifesaving treatments and therapies for our families, neighbors and friends.”

In thanking FICOH for their generous support, Dr. Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director said, “Phase 1 clinical trials represent the cutting edge of cancer treatments and are often considered when patients have a particularly challenging form of cancer or when standard treatments have been unsuccessful.” Holcombe continued, “In a state where approximately 7,100 people are diagnosed each year with cancer, the stakes are high, and we are so grateful to FICOH for their commitment to our center and the state.”

A clinical trial is a research study testing the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for cancer. Every cancer-fighting drug and therapy available to doctors today was tested in a clinical trial before it could be used routinely on patients. However, because the environments, ethnicities and cultures of Hawai‘i and the Pacific are unique, so are the needs of cancer patients in this region.

The Early Phase Clinical Research Center will complement drug discovery programs already in place within the Cancer Center focused on identifying unique-to-Hawai‘i compounds derived from natural products with anti-cancer activity. It represents an opportunity to translate basic laboratory discoveries into novel treatments for patients.

Read more about First Insurance Charitable Foundation's Donation to the UH Cancer Center

More about the Early Phase Clinical Research Center in the video below: