Innovations Summer 2022 | Page 7


Developments in the Population Sciences in the Pacific Program

Sung-shim ( Lani ) Park , PhD , MPH , and

Pallav Pokhrel , PhD , MPH , have been serving as co-leaders of the Population Sciences in the Pacific Program for the past eight months . Park , a molecular epidemiologist , studies genetic , behavioral , and environmental risk factors of cancer , while Pokhrel , a behavioral scientist , has expertise in community-based psychosocial research focused on cancer prevention .
The Population Sciences in the Pacific ( PSP ) Program ’ s mission is to understand and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in cancer and to reduce overall cancer incidence and mortality in Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific . To meet this goal , members of the PSP Program conduct research in cancer epidemiology and cancer prevention , with a strong focus on meeting the immediate needs of populations in Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific .
As co-leaders , Park and Pokhrel are actively working to recruit new faculty and increase strategic collaborations to further the mission of the program . Recent additions to the PSP team include Izumi Okado , PhD , appointed as Assistant Researcher and Professor , and Scott Okamoto , PhD , joining as a new faculty Researcher and Professor . Okamoto ’ s research focuses on preventing tobacco use
Sung-shim Park , PhD , MPH
Pallav Pokhrel , PhD , MPH
among youth in rural communities , and Okado works in cancer care delivery and rural health .
In addition , the co-leaders foster collaborations between members of PSP and other programs within the Cancer Center , the wider UH Mānoa academic community , and beyond . A current inter-programmatic collaboration with the Cancer Biology program examines lung tumors to explain differences in lung cancer survival rates . An upcoming research study , in collaboration with University of California , San Francisco , examines the impact of structural racism on change in smoking behaviors and lung cancer risk .
Other PSP research is focused on understanding the effects of e-cigarette marketing trends on Hawai ‘ i young adults ’ tobacco use behavior . Program collaborations with the University of Guam may result in an evidence-based e-cigarette and tobacco-use prevention program for the Pacific Islander youth which can be translated across Hawai ‘ i and the Pacific Islands . These collaborations drive PSP to gain a richer , more in-depth understanding of cancer through multidisciplinary research approaches , impacting Hawai ‘ i and beyond .
Hawai ‘ i Tumor Registry releases updated cancer statistics

The UH Cancer Center ’ s Hawai ‘ i Tumor Registry , responsible for cancer surveillance in the state of Hawai ‘ i , recently released updated cancer statistics in Hawai ‘ i Cancer at a Glance , 2014-2018 . This publication informs the community about the impact of cancer across the state , and includes statistics about new cancer cases , cancer survivorship , and mortality .

Data found in the publication show that an average of 7,393 Hawai ‘ i residents are diagnosed every year with invasive cancer , and 2,393 individuals die of cancer . At last count , 66,779 Hawai ‘ i residents are living with cancer , including those newly diagnosed and those diagnosed with invasive cancer in the past . This is an increase of almost 9,000 survivors since 2016 . Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths in the state . Breast cancer remains the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women , while prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men .
“ Statewide cancer incidence and mortality data are critical for understanding the impact of cancer on the people of Hawai ‘ i and for establishing strategies and priorities for cancer prevention , early detection , treatment , and survivorship ,” said Brenda Hernandez , PhD , MPH , Hawai ‘ i Tumor Registry Principle Investigator .
Learn more about cancer data in Hawai ‘ i Cancer at a Glance , 2014-2018 by visiting uhcancercenter . org .