Americans of Pacific Islander ancestry is a highly underserved minority with a significant, disparate burden of cancer. In addition, they are also highly underrepresented among cancer researchers and cancer health care professionals. The University of Guam (UOG) and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center (UHCC) have been engaged in a unique and successful partnership over the past twelve years, currently supported by a U54 grant.
As the only U54 Partnership addressing cancer health disparities in Pacific Islanders, the UOG/UHCC Partnership is characterized by a significant number of very distinctive aspects and opportunities. In particular, 37% of the Guam population is represented by indigenous Chamorros/part-Chamorros, while 38% are Filipino and Micronesian. The unique ethnic characteristics of this UOG/UHCC Partnership are paralleled by its unique geographic characteristics (the region covered by HI, GU, and U.S. Pacific Territories/jurisdictions), as well as unique regional opportunities for research, education, and outreach.
The UOG/UHCC Partnership has indeed been transformational for the UOG and the Territory of Guam as specified in UOG’s Letter of Commitment, including the establishment of a Cancer Research Center at UOG and implementation of legislation markedly increasing taxes on tobacco products. At UHCC the U54 has resulted in increased cancer health disparities research in Pacific Islanders. In this U54 renewal application, our overarching goal is to establish our Partner- ship as the national and international leader in advancing cancer health equity in Pacific Islanders. To achieve this goal we will build upon the success of the last five and a half years.
All Specific Aims of the individual components of our application support our overall objectives, namely 1) to continue to develop the cancer re- search capability and competitiveness of faculty at UOG by increasing the number of UOG faculty with investigator-initiated funding and peer-reviewed publications;2) to further develop the focus of UHCC research on cancer health disparities, with particular emphasis on Pacific Islanders and related topics of regional relevance such as betel nut chewing and cervical cancer screening and prevention;3) To continue raising the awareness of cancer and cancer prevention in the multiethnic communities served by UOG and UHCC, with emphasis on Pacific Islanders;and 4) to increase the number of cancer and biomedical science researchers of Pacific Is- lander ancestry in the U.S. by continuing our successful MA, MS, and PhD training programs for Pacific Is- lander students in cancer-related fields, as well as providing guidance to early stage faculty investigators. The leadership at UOG and UHCC are highly committed to this Partnership as evidenced by their strong Letters of Support and the commitment of significant resources to the Partnership.
Public Health Relevance
This grant has supported the only cancer research infrastructure established west of Hawaii, in the U.S. Territory of Guam. Continued funding will support three research projects described herein, focusing on cancers of regional significance. The partnership provides opportunities for faculty as well as pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students to develop and strengthen skills in project design and administration, team collaboration, recruitment and retention, specimen collection, data analysis, manuscript writing, grantsmanship among others. Early stage and senior investigators at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center will gain opportunities to work with new populations in the Hawaii-Pacific region, including Chamorros, Chuukese and Marshallese, and establish collaborations with UOG faculty who share interests in cancer health disparities research.