Annual Report 2021 - Page 3

DIRECTOR ’ S MESSAGE

2021 WAS BOTH AN EXCITING AND CHALLENGING YEAR AT THE UH CANCER CENTER .

This year we celebrated the 50th year of the National

Cancer Act that launched an innovative new approach to cancer research establishing the network of National Cancer Institute ( NCI ) -Designated Cancer Centers and new funding for cancer research . Our UH Cancer Center staff and faculty also celebrated our 50th year serving our communities to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawai ‘ i and the U . S . -Affiliated Pacific Islands and our 25th year of continuous funding as one of 71 elite NCI-Designated Cancer Centers across the U . S . We are the only NCI-Designated Cancer Center completely focused on cancer in the islands , and our faculty and staff continue to work hard every day to make a difference . We are making progress to end cancer as we know it , but there is still much work ahead . In these pages you will see a small sample of what the faculty and staff have accomplished over the last 50 years as well as current projects that carry us in new directions .
Along with the excitement of these landmarks , we continue to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic , some of which will be felt well beyond its ending . We have found that in many rural areas of the state cancer screenings have declined during the pandemic . This may lead to some cancers being diagnosed at more advanced stages , when they may be harder to treat . You will learn how COVID-19 has affected our clinical trials work and how we are innovating to meet that challenge . This report also describes how our researchers are working to understand how genetics , race / ethnicity , and socioeconomic factors influence the risk of COVID-19 infection .
This year , Dr . Randall Holcombe left the UH Cancer Center , after having served as our Director for the last five years . We take a moment here to reflect on his many accomplishments at UH . We have also made several leadership changes . After years of outstanding leadership in our Population Sciences in the Pacific Program ,
Drs . Thomas Wills and Herbert Yu stepped down to focus on their research . We are fortunate that Drs . Lani Park and Pallav Pokhrel have enthusiastically taken on leadership of the program to steer it into its next phase . We have recruited Dr . Xin Chen , an internationally renowned liver cancer expert , as the new co-leader of the Cancer Biology Program . Dr . Chen will bring her expertise to bear on the high incidence of liver cancer in Hawai ‘ i . We welcomed as the new Medical Director of our Clinical Trials Office , Dr . Jonathan Cho , who has more than 30 years experience as an oncologist in Hawai ‘ i . I also appointed Dr . John Shepherd as Interim Deputy Director to work with me to serve the UH Cancer Center during this transition . Finally , the search for the new Director is fully underway .
I am honored to serve this wonderful community of faculty and staff and all our partners across Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific in support of our united mission to end cancer as we know it .
Mahalo ,
JOE W . RAMOS , PhD
INTERIM DIRECTOR
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