Summer Interns Conduct Cancer Research in Hawai‘i

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Summer 2017 Cancer Center interns. Photo courtesy of University of Hawai‘i.

The University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center mentored 19 high school and undergraduate students during its cancer research internship this summer, including one Keaʻau High School graduate.

“The internship program characterizes the community engagement that is very important to the UH Cancer Center,” said Dr. Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director. “We are able to reach out to young students across the island and help them get exposed to new research advances and cutting edge biomedical research. These students will become a part of Hawai‘i’s science and technology workforce.”

The interns were chosen through a highly competitive process from public and private schools across the state and the nation. Out of 74 total applications, 19 students were selected with an average GPA of 3.77. More than half of the students consist of underrepresented minorities.


A 2017 follow-up of 72 previous students showed:

  • 73 percent obtained an undergraduate degree in a science field;
  • 5 percent completed a medical degree;
  • 5 percent had finished graduate school education in a research-oriented field;
  • 34 percent are enrolled in an undergraduate science program;
  • 13 percent are enrolled in a Master’s program and;
  • 23 percent are enrolled in a Medical School.

During the program, students are guided by faculty members and focus on cancer prevention and control measures, cancer epidemiology, bioinformatics and basic cancer biology. They gain research experience by completing an independent project, and present their findings to peers and CAncer Center faculty through a poster session. Students receive a stipend for their work during the two-month internship.

“I wanted to experience a research environment first-hand to get a better understanding of what actually happens when planning and executing research,” said UH Mānoa student Lauren Muraoka. “I was also really interested in the fact that a lot of what the Cancer Center is doing is focused on the Pacific, so it’s neat to see the community-focused aspect of research as well.”


“This internship means learning how cancer impacts people around the world and how other health- and non-health related issues play into cancer,” said UH Mānoa student Phyllis Raquinio. “It means learning new things about cancer that many people might not know and using that knowledge to fight back against cancer.”

The 2017 Cancer Center Summer Interns included:

Two High School Students (school, funding source)

  • Jommel Macaraeg (Waipahu High School), CURE
  • Daven Ruggles (Kalaheo High School), CURE

17 Undergraduate Students (school, funding source)

  • Larissa Ault (Charter School of San Diego) attending UH Mānoa, CURE
  • Ivy Fernandes (Mid-Pacific Institute) attending Santa Clara University, CURE
  • Megan Ishii (Punahou) attending Scripps College, CURE
  • Jethro Macaraeg (Waipahu High School) attending Creighton, CURE
  • Jasmine Padamada (Kea’au High School) attending UH Mānoa, CURE
  • Phyllis Raquinio (Maui High School) attending UH Mānoa, CURE
  • Nicholas Siu-Li (Hawaii Baptist Academy) attending Santa Clara University, CURE
  • Makana Williams (Punahou) attending Yales, CURE
  • Casie Kubota (St. Andrews) attending UH Mānoa, Meiji
  • Victoria Mak (Punahou) attending Saint Louis University, Meiji
  • Lynn Nguyen (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa, Meiji
  • Mari Ogino (Pearl City) attending UH Mānoa, Meiji
  • Dylan Combs (Punahou) attending Harvard, Friends
  • Connor Goo (Punahou) attending USC, Friends
  • Nicholas Liu (‘Iolani) attending University of British Columbia, Friends
  • Lauren Muraoka (Hanalani) attending UH Mānoa, Friends
  • Dabe Sobol (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa, Friends

The Center’s internship program is supported in part by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) CURE Supplement, an endowment from the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, and the Friends of the UH Cancer Center.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments