New grant at UH Cancer Center supports research training for students from Hawaiʻi and Guam

July 19, 2021

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center welcomed 16 undergraduate students for its inaugural Cancer Research Education, Advancement, Training, and Empowerment (CREATE) program. At the start of the program, trainees were paired with faculty mentors to work in UH Cancer Center research programs in Population Sciences in the Pacific or Cancer Biology.

2021 CREATE Program students

Trainees are Hawaiʻi or Guam residents, and currently enrolled as sophomores or juniors at universities all across the nation. During the program, the trainees participate in seminars, contribute to manuscript preparation and journal clubs, conduct poster presentations, and receive training in the responsible conduct of research, laboratory safety, and/or human research protection. The program is supported by a $1.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health over five years.

CREATE addresses the overarching goal of enhancing the training of a future workforce to meet biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs to lower cancer incidence and mortality in the Pacific. The program builds upon the 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. CREATE hopes to increase the number of students pursuing a career in cancer research and provide them with the skills necessary to excel in the field.

“My family, like many others, has been greatly affected by cancer. All the women on my father’s side were diagnosed with breast cancer. As they were all part Native Hawaiian, I became particularly interested in learning about cancer risk among racial/ethnic minority groups,” said Jade Ching, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa junior and CREATE trainee. “So far, the CREATE program has taught me research and presentation skills that will pave the path to ensuring the highest quality of life in Hawaiʻi’s cancer patients. Having the opportunity to partake in meaningful research has made this summer unforgettable.”

The CREATE program runs from June 1 to July 30, and is being led by UH Cancer Center researchers Gertraud Maskarinec, MD, PhD, Joe W. Ramos, PhD, and Joseph Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula, PhD.