Shane Morita, M.D., assistant professor for the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), clinical faculty member at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center and surgical oncologist at The Queen’s Medical Center, has received an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Faculty Scholar Award.
Dr. Morita hopes that this research in thyroid cancer will advance knowledge of the disease, especially how it affects particular groups in Hawa’i’s diverse population.
“Having been born and raised in Hilo, my goal is to improve the outcome of patients in Hawai’i, both as a surgeon and researcher,” said Morita, a graduate of Waiakea High School. “I hope to increase awareness of cancer health disparities in unique ethnic groups to other investigators across the nation.”
Dr. Morita, a JABSOM medical school graduate, also has a Masters of Sciences in Biomedical Sciences and is currently seeking a PhD in the same area, through the Masters in Clinical Research Program (MCR), headed by JABSOM’s Dr. Rosanne Harrigan.
Dr. Harrigan is delighted by Morita’s success — and that of several others of her students.
“A number of our students have gotten funded, and we are very proud of them because it’s very hard to get funding now,” said Harrigan. “I’ve had the opportunity to select from exquisite applicants. I think our program allows people who are well developed as beginning investigators to focus their efforts, to organize, to get involved with the right mentors and to feel good about it to succeed.”
Dr. Harrigan’s MCR program is ten years old now. “We are proud how we’ve structured the program, and we are also grateful that Queen’s Health System has helped some of our students by supporting them with tuition,” she said.
The bottom line, Harrigan said, is “We wanted to pick people (for our program) who will take off and fly, and many of them have.”
That includes Dr. Morita, who will present his findings at the AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved in Washington, D.C. in mid-September. His award is supported through his collaborative efforts with the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center grant to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities of the National Cancer Institute.
Pictured: Dr. Morita, Dr. Harrigan