Year 2 Pilot Projects

Ola HAWAII Year 2 Pilot Grantees


Rhea Faye Felicilda-Reynaldo, Ed.D.

Medical pluralism among Filipinos in Hawaii

The Filipinos in Hawaii have high rates of HTN and DM. Culture plays a role in determining health behaviors, and the Philippines has a long-standing tradition of use of traditional and alternative therapies. There is a need to gain a better understanding of these traditional and health care practices to enhance awareness and knowledge of the greater health care community. This may lead to development of culturally-competent interventions that could reduce the gap in health disparities experienced by this population


Vedbar Khadka, Ph.D.

Bacterial Association with cancer pathogenesis using TCGA sequencing data

This proposal focuses on bacterial contributions to cancer modulation. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Hawaii residents after cardiovascular disease. Our unique geographical location as a sentinel for infectious diseases and our high cancer incidence rates merits further investigation of infection contribution to cancer and potential impact to racial-related disparities. Our UH Cancer Center has contributed to TCGA efforts, therefore we will be able to examine the effects of microbial abundance in our local population which include Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians, Filipino and other ethnic populations in Hawaii.


Melissa Merritt, Ph.D.

Role of bisphenol A and phthalates/plasticizers in endometrial cancer development

Our goal is to evaluate hypothesized novel risk factors (endocrine disruptors) for endometrial cancer across three racial/ethnic groups. We anticipate that this study may have particular relevance for Native Hawaiian women because they have the highest reported incidence of endometrial cancer compared with all other racial/ethnic groups


Sladjana Prisic, Ph.D.

Macrophage response to infection with distinct subpopulations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Hawaii has the highest TB incidence in the US, i.e., three times the average. Importantly, Hawaii also has one of the highest incidences of NTMs and the highest mortality rates in the US associated with NTMs. Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders are ten times more likely to suffer from TB than other US-born individuals. Therefore, better TB and NTM treatment would decrease TB and NTM burden and improve health of people in Hawaii.


Reni Soon, M.D.

Re-evaluating Inter-Pregnancy Interval and Maternal and Infant Health Disparities

Hawaii has growing disparities in perinatal health, with higher than average rates of preterm birth, low-birth weight and infant mortality seen in our Native Hawaiian, Filipina and Pacific Island populations.  Understanding the impact of IPI and perinatal health outcomes in our state will help us to individualize public health endeavors and focus local investment in initiatives that will truly decrease perinatal mortality.  Our partnership with HMIHC will enable us to ensure these efforts are community-driven with feedback from and engagement with community-based statewide partners who can both develop grassroots initiatives and engage public officials to support implementation.