Dr. Michele Carbone named interim director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawai'i

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Nov 21, 2008

LĪHUʻE, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi — At its monthly meeting held today at Kauaʻi Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents (BOR) approved the appointment of Dr. Michele Carbone as interim director of the university‘s Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi.

Carbone‘s appointment is effective December 1, 2008. He replaces Dr. Carl Wilhelm-Vogel, who stepped down as director earlier this month. Vogel will assist in the transition of leadership, working with Carbone and UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor Gary Ostrander. A nationwide search for a permanent director will be undertaken.

"Dr. Carbone, an internationally respected scientist, particularly in the area of mesothelioma, joined the Cancer Research Center in 2006 and has also been serving as Chairman of the Pathology Department at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. We very much appreciate his stepping forward to assume this leadership responsibility so that we keep moving forward with the development of the Cancer Research Center for the State of Hawaiʻi," said UH Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw.

"We are very grateful for Dr. Vogel‘s contributions over the past 9 years, which enable us to move forward in serving the people of Hawaiʻi in cancer care and research."

Carbone is currently director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi‘s Thoracic Oncology Program and chair of the Department of Pathology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

He joined the university in 2006 from Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago and has spent most of his career researching thoracic cancer.

Carbone kicked off his career with a $1 million grant from the American Cancer Society. Today, he is considered to be the country‘s premier authority on mesothelioma, a deadly cancer associated with asbestos exposure. His team has more than half of all federal funding for mesothelioma and asbestos and about 90 percent of all National Cancer Institute funding on research on mesothelioma. He studies how genetics, environmental carcinogens and viral infection interact in the causation of mesothelioma, to develop novel preventive and therapeutic strategies.

Among his notable research findings, Carbone and his research team discovered the mechanism of asbestos carcinogenesis and found that SV40 (a virus that contaminated polio vaccines) synergizes with asbestos in causing mesothelioma. He is also working with his team to address an unprecedented mesothelioma epidemic that causes over 50 percent of deaths in three small Turkish villages. They have demonstrated that the epidemic is caused by an interaction between a human gene and the environment. Findings from this research have implications far beyond the villages in Turkey. They can be applied to other geographic areas and communities worldwide, with the goal of preventing this deadly form of cancer or finding new life-saving interventions and treatments.

His research findings on both projects are among his list of numerous publications featured in leading medical journals. Carbone received his medical degree from the Medical School of Rome — La Sapienza, and a doctorate degree in human pathology through a combined program of the Medical School of Rome and National Institutes of Health in the United States.