Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Innovation Awardee

March 2023 - SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award

A $50,000 Stanford Women's Cancer Center Innovation award was awarded to Erqi Pollom, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and, by courtesy, of Neurosurgery, and her collaborators Manali Patel, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Oncology), and Kekoa Taparra, MD, PhD, resident physician-scientist trainee in the Department of Radiation Oncology, for their project entitled “The impact of multiraciality, comorbidity, and geography on cancer disparities among the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population in the United States.”

Pacific Islanders are one of the five race groups in the US. Cancer researchers often combine Pacific Islanders with multiracial patients or exclude them altogether, which perpetuates structural racism by preventing Pacific Islanders from being seen. Hiding Pacific Islander data lowers public funding, awareness, and resources for Pacific Islanders. Through the support of the SCI Women's Cancer Center Innovation award, Drs. Taparra, Pollom, and Patel aim to determine how Pacific Islanders who are of more than one race should be included in cancer research. They will use computer models to find out if different multiracial Pacific Islanders with cancer have the same rates of death as single-race Pacific Islanders, which has major implications for many epidemiological studies. This project may not only find areas of improvement for Pacific Islanders with cancer, but it may also help set new standards on how Pacific Islanders are evaluated based on their other races. The results of this study may be used in other areas of research outside of cancer as well.