UH Cancer Center researcher awarded $100,000 for gastrointestinal cancer study

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Nana Ohkawa, (808) 564-5911
Director of Communications, University of Hawaii Cancer Center
Posted: Jan 21, 2016

Paul and Ruby Mizue
Paul and Ruby Mizue
Group shot at Masami Horio Memorial Fund ceremony at the UH Cancer Center.
Group shot at Masami Horio Memorial Fund ceremony at the UH Cancer Center.
Ruby Mizue, Dr. Scott Kuwada, Dr. James Turkson and Dr. Jerris Hedges.
Ruby Mizue, Dr. Scott Kuwada, Dr. James Turkson and Dr. Jerris Hedges.
Dr. Scott Kuwada sharing with the Mizue family his goal for the gastrointestinal pilot study.
Dr. Scott Kuwada sharing with the Mizue family his goal for the gastrointestinal pilot study.

The Masami Horio Memorial Fund has awarded $100,000 to Scott Kuwada, MD, a professor in the Clinical and Translational Research Program at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center for his gastrointestinal (GI) cancer pilot study. 

Said Dr. Kuwada, "Being awarded the Masami Horio grant to study gastric cancer is special for me, since I too share a personal family connection to gastric cancer here in Hawai‘i. Both of my grandfathers were second-generation Japanese, and one died from gastric cancer and the other from colon cancer."

"We give great thanks to the family for their generous contribution to help us build UH Cancer Center investigators who will focus on curing the type of cancer that has affected their family as well as many others in Hawai‘i. These funds are very important because they help early-stage studies have a chance for national funding in the future,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and interim director of the Cancer Center.


Dr. Kuwada along with other collaborators recently discovered that a rare form of gastric cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) occurs much more frequently in Asians than whites in Hawai‘i, and is strongly associated with Helicobacter pylori infection. 

Prior studies at the UH Cancer Center revealed that the higher risk for gastric cancer in early Japanese immigrants in Hawai‘i was due to Helicobacter pylori infection in their stomachs, which was acquired during their childhoods in Japan. 

The grant will be used to identify novel molecular risk factors for gastric cancers, which could be used to identify individuals who might benefit from gastric cancer screening. “We intend to further develop evidence that there should be a gastric cancer screening program for individuals at higher risk for gastric cancers,” said Dr. Kuwada.


Ruby Mizue was the beneficiary of a bequest from her uncle and aunt, Masami and Nobuye Horio. Ruby and her husband Paul Mizue decided to memorialize her aunt with a scholarship endowment at UH Leeward Community College and an expendable gift to the UH Cancer Center.

“The decision to establish a scholarship fund and to support cancer research in memory of my uncle and aunt seemed fitting memorials for them, as they had no children of their own,” said Mizue.

The purpose of the Fund is to provide a pilot project award for a UH Cancer Center research project related to GI cancer research with a preference for stomach cancer research.

“As a sansei or third generation Japanese-American, I have been the privileged recipient of the values and sacrifices of my grandparents, parents, and loving aunts and uncles,” said Mizue.

“Although these gifts will be funded entirely by proceeds from their estate, they are also established with deep gratitude and appreciation for the generations of family who preceded me and enabled my family to enjoy the benefits and privileges of our life in America.”

(Full caption for group shot) 

Front row: Kevin Fukushima, Ruby Mizue, Paul Mizue, Doris Watanabe, May Hamamoto, Florence Sato, Rose Kume.

Second row: Dyan Kleckner, Liam Mizue, Reid Mizue, Karen Watanabe, Allyson Kume.

Third row: Glenn Fukiushima, Halbert Ochiae, Charlene Ochiae, Paul Kawaguchi, Dr. James Turkson, Dr. Patricia Blanchette.

Fourth row: Jimmy Rhymer, Dr. Joe Ramos, Dr. Scott Kuwada, Dr. Jerris Hedges, Trish Kume, Stewart Kume.

The UH Cancer Center has many dedicated funds for specific cancer-related research projects, such as those focusing on liver, breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

If you have a specific area of interest you would like to support, please contact Elaine Evans at elaine.evans@UHFoundation.org or T 808-692-0991. You can also make a gift at www.uhfoundation.org/givetocancercenter

The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center is one of 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute.  Affiliated with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care. Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations. www.uhfoundation.org.

For more information, visit: https://vimeo.com/152466215