UH Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence Receives $4.6 Million NIH Endowment

Award will help research into health disparities among Native Hawaiians

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Benjamin Young, (808) 956-5826
Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence
Posted: Nov 13, 2002

The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE) has been awarded a $4.6 million dollar endowment from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NHCOE is part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

The NHCOE plans to use the award to research health disparities among Native Hawaiians. The center‘s research capabilities have been limited due to the lack of actual research programs, and the endowment award will help in this area by supporting a full-time research director. The research director will work to seek grants; oversee research projects of medical students, residents in training, and junior faculty; and also coordinate research among community agencies and groups.

The center‘s mission is to improve the health of Hawaiians through research, education, service and training of Native Hawaiians in medicine. It was established in 1991 with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, of the 2,500 practicing physicians in Hawaiʻi, only 5.5 percent are Native Hawaiian, while roughly 20 percent of Hawaiʻi‘s population is Native Hawaiian.

The main goals of NHCOE are to recruit students who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, increase retention efforts, develop Native Hawaiian physicians for faculty roles, broaden the curriculum so that it encompasses Native Hawaiian health issues, and research those health care issues so that they apply to the population. Officials have seen progress made since the center‘s establishment, with not only an improved awareness amongst JABSOM faculty but also an increased appreciation of the impact of diseases on the Native Hawaiian population.

The NHCOE participates in several activities to promote awareness and education of Native Hawaiian health issues. The center sponsors an annual trek to Kahoʻolawe where participants learn about the history of Hawaiʻi, historical sites, and cultural values. It also coordinates several conferences each year, primarily for physicians, including the "Lost Generations of Hawaiians," which is the most recent conference held this past August. Such conferences increase community involvement and build support for the NHCOE in its attempts to better the Native Hawaiian culture.

The center also produces two publications, "Pacific Health Dialog" and a yearly calendar,that provide additional information including historical anecdotes and discussion on major issues.

For more information about the center or Native Hawaiian health issues, log onto www.hawaii.edu/nhcoe/newsletter.html.