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First Insurance Charitable Foundation Donates $125,000 for UH Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trials


Kaela Wasnich, Sr. Corporate Communications Specialist
First Insurance Co. of Hawaii
(808) 527-7388

The First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH) Charitable Foundation has donated $125,000 to support the UH Cancer Center’s new state-of-the-art Early Phase Clinical Research Center. This center will provide access to phase 1 clinical trials for cancer patients in Hawaiʻi so they do not have to travel to the continental U.S. for specialized treatments.

FICOH President and CEO Jeff Shonka said, “As a Hawai‘i company and employer, we feel it is imperative for us to invest in research that will have tangible benefits for our community. So many people in Hawaii are personally impacted by cancer each year. This is our way of helping find new lifesaving treatments and therapies for our families, neighbors and friends."

In thanking FICOH for their generous support, Dr. Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director said, “Phase 1 clinical trials represent the cutting edge of cancer treatments and are often considered when patients have a particularly challenging form of cancer or when standard treatments have been unsuccessful.” Holcombe continued, “In a state where approximately 7,100 people are diagnosed each year with cancer, the stakes are high, and we are so grateful to FICOH for their commitment to our center and the state.”

A clinical trial is a research study testing the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for cancer. Every cancer-fighting drug and therapy available to doctors today was tested in a clinical trial before it could be used routinely on patients. However, because the environments, ethnicities and cultures of Hawai‘i and the Pacific are unique, so are the needs of cancer patients in our region.

The Early Phase Clinical Research Center will complement drug discovery programs already in place within the Cancer Center focused on identifying unique-to- Hawai‘i compounds derived from natural products with anti-cancer activity. It represents an opportunity to translate basic laboratory discoveries into novel treatments for patients.

UH Foundation President and CEO Tim Dolan said, “The Early Phase Clinical Research Center will radically expand the clinical trials options for the people of Hawai‘i and improve our community’s quality of life as cancer patients and their families will have access to the care they need. We are grateful for FICOH’s philanthropic partnership and their support of this vibrant clinical research center.”

To learn more about the cancer research and clinical trials taking place at the UH Cancer Center, and how you can support these efforts, please contact UH Cancer Center Director of Development Lynne Wooddell at or (808) 356-5757

About First Insurance Company of Hawaii

Founded in 1911, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. is the oldest and largest property and casualty insurer domiciled in Hawaii, with assets of $675.4 million, liabilities of $409.3 million, and policyholders’ surplus of $266.1 million as of December 31, 2019.

First Insurance, a member of the Tokio Marine North America (TMNA) group of companies, enjoys an “A+” rating from A.M. Best Co. Proud of its broadly experienced, service-oriented staff, First Insurance employs 336 insurance professionals and distributes its products through 26 independent general agencies. First Insurance was named one of Hawaii’s Best Places to Work for 2019 by Hawaii Business magazine. It was also awarded the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Gold Achievement for 2020.

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