Background: Pacific Islanders (PIs) are a highly underserved minority with a significant burden of cancer health disparities (CHD). PIs are also highly underrepresented among cancer researchers and cancer healthcare professionals.
Aim:To reduce CHD among PIs in Guam, Hawaii and the US-Associated Pacific Islands through cancer research, training and education, and outreach.
Methods: Since 2003, the University of Guam (UOG)/University of Hawaii Cancer Center (UHCC) Partnership has provided graduate training and education in CHD research, mentorship to early stage investigators (ESI), and funding to support cancer research unique to the Western Pacific. Outreach strategies employ community-based participatory methods to reduce cancer risk and strengthen cancer control policy.
Results: Sixteen master’s and two doctoral students have received fellowship support and training. Three UOG graduates are in doctoral programs and one UHCC doctoral fellow is now a tenure-track faculty at UOG. CHD curriculum has been institutionalized at UOG. Ten UOG ESI were mentored. Four faculty received summer fellowships at UHCC; two subsequently secured seed grant awards. Research of regional relevance and global importance is jointly conducted by UOG/UHCC investigators, including six betel nut pilot studies and four cancer risk related studies. Outreach built community capacity in tobacco cessation and influenced legislation to reduce tobacco use and increase tobacco taxes on Guam, providing support for patient services and Guam’s Cancer Registry. Almost 50 scientific papers have been published.
Conclusions: The UOG/UHCC Partnership has significantly increased research capacity at UOG, expanded participation in CHD research at UHCC, and prepared future cancer researchers and cancer healthcare professionals to, together with the community, address the growing cancer burden in the Western Pacific region.
Supported by the U.S. National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers U54 CA143727 and U54 CA143728.