Innovations Summer 2022 - Page 4

THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI ‘ I CANCER CENTER IS HAVING AN EXCEPTIONAL YEAR WHEN IT COMES TO CONDUCTING IMPACTFUL RESEARCH TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF HAWAI ‘ I ’ S

UNIQUE MULTIETHNIC POPULATION . THREE NOTABLE UH CANCER CENTER RESEARCHERS RECENTLY RECEIVED RESEARCH SUPPORT OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS IN AREAS OF DIET AND
NUTRITION , THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE , AND OBESITY IN KEIKI . TOGETHER , THEY HAVE RECEIVED FEDERAL FUNDING OF OVER $ 12 MILLION .
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IMPACTING ADULTS
Nutrition plays an integral role in human development and in the prevention and treatment of disease . However , there is no such thing as a perfect , one-size-fits-all diet .
The National Institutes of Health ’ s Nutrition for Precision Health ( NPH ) program will build on recent advancements in biomedical science including artificial intelligence , microbiome research , as well as the infrastructure and large , diverse participant group of the All of Us Research Program . Of the 14 sites across the U . S . selected to participate in NPH , only Hawai ‘ i received a designated Dietary Assessment Center award of $ 7 million over the next five years . Carol Boushey , PhD , MPH , RD , and her team will use advanced technological tools that combine precision dietary assessment and research translation to better understand eating behaviors , diet-disease relationships , and help develop dietary intervention programs to directly influence the health of people in Hawai ‘ i and across the U . S .
IMPACTING YOUNG ADULTS
Pallav Pokhrel , PhD , MPH , and his team have been studying well-being and health behaviors of more than 2,000 young adults in Hawai ‘ i since 2017 . Building on this research , Pokhrel received a $ 2.01 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic affected mental health , tobacco , and other substance use among the young adults in this cohort . Pokhrel ’ s team will compare data collected now with data collected from the same research participants they studied pre-COVID to identify changes in and potential facilitators of change in these areas . Tobacco prevention and cessation and other health promotion programs developed in the future based on this research could be particularly meaningful and effective in Hawai ‘ i because the data that informed them come from research participants who mirror the state ’ s racial and ethnic diversity .
IMPACTING KEIKI
Metabolic diseases such as obesity are the leading cause of deaths among adults . Being overweight or obese is linked with a higher risk of getting 13 types of cancer . Obese children are more likely to become obese adults , and adolescents have their most rapid weight gain before the age of five and are usually obese by then . Pediatric obesity research is limited due to the lack of appropriate body composition technologies . To address the gap , the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development awarded John Shepherd , PhD , $ 3.1 million to develop new , age-appropriate technologies to examine links between body composition and metabolic risk factors for developing cancer among children from birth to five years in Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific .