University of Hawaii Cancer Center’s NCI Designation Renewal Means Additional Funding for Mesothelioma Research
The University of Hawaii Cancer Center has once again been named a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center. The five-year designation not only brings recognition to UH as being one of the nation’s best cancer centers, but it also provides vital funding for continued research. The UH Cancer Center researchers, led by Michele Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., have published significant findings related to mesothelioma research. Their latest study pinpointed the protein HMGB1 as a key player in the development of malignant mesothelioma.
Often called “asbestos cancer” since asbestos exposure is known to cause the disease, malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that is resistant to many cancer treatments. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, however, scientists are researching in earnest for a breakthrough treatment that will improve survival and quality of life for patients. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year.
The UH Cancer Center is one of only 66 NCI-designated cancer centers in the United States. According to NCI, the designated cancer centers are awarded the NCI distinction by demonstrating strong organizational capabilities, institutional commitment, and trans-disciplinary, cancer-focused science; experienced scientific and administrative leadership, and state-of-the-art cancer research and patient care facilities. NCI-designated Cancer Centers play a key national role in developing new therapies in rare cancers, such as mesothelioma, and are expected to lead, and/or participate in, NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network trials, including studies of rare cancers.
“This recognition and the funding that comes with the NCI designation is extremely significant for the university as well as the state of Hawai‘i,” said University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood in the press release announcing the award. “Not only will the UH Cancer Center be able to continue its efforts to advance the understanding of cancers that are prevalent in our island population and explore potential new cures found in our unique environment, but this also marks a critical step forward in the university’s efforts to build on our research strengths and develop an innovation economy for our state.”
The UH Cancer Center received its initial NCI designation in 1996 and is the only NCI-designated research facility throughout Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim.
“The recognition and approval by the NCI is a great honor and a reflection of the hard work and dedication by our faculty and staff as well as the tremendous support of President M.R.C. Greenwood, Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, the legislature, and our partner hospitals,” said Carbone. “Remaining an NCI-designated Cancer Center will allow us to continue to discover and develop new therapies that will lead to our goal of creating a world where cancer no longer exists.”
Last year, Carbone reported that more than 20 million people in the United States are at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.