Research Projects

OPHS policies and procedures place a high priority on research activities. Through long-standing and well-developed collaborative research relationships with community and government organizations, OPHS faculty are involved in numerous research projects that span a wide range of public health issues. Select topics of ongoing OPHS faculty research are illustrated below. The topics are classified broadly by subject, but the categories are not mutually exclusive and in some instances the research is related to more than one field.

Infectious Diseases

  • Leptospirosis screening (Katz)
  • Various projects on sexually transmitted diseases (Katz)
  • Evaluate the efficacy of using mutated tRNA primers to combat HIV-1 inhibition (Lu)
  • Evaluate the use of a blood-derived monocyte delivery system for gene transfer into the central nervous system for the treatment of neuroAIDS (Lu)
  • In vitro cell culture model for siRNA based protection from West Nile virus infection (Lu)
  • Test and establishment of novel therapeutics for neuroAIDS and other neurologic disorders (Lu)
  • Molecular-based diagnostic methods for leptospirosis (Lu)
  • Establishment of laboratory diagnosis and detection for norovirus infection (Lu)

Chronic Diseases

  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome (Grandinetti)
  • PBI factors in back pain (Hurwitz)
  • Epidemiologic studies of cardiovascular disease (Grandinetti, Grove)
  • Effects of volcanic emissions on lung and cardiovascular function (Grandinetti)
  • Risk factors for idiopathic Parkinson's disease (Grandinetti)
  • Developing and testing a cancer patient navigation curriculum (Braun)

Social/Behavioral Sciences

  • Testing the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change (Nigg)
  • Fun 5 – Promoting physical activity and healthy nutrition in children (Nigg)
  • Using exercise to help college students quit smoking (Nigg)
  • Obesity prevention in hotel employees (Nigg)
  • Examining stage of change for physical activity among several nationally funded projects (Nigg)
  • Improving direct measurement of sun protective behaviors (Maddock)
  • Factors associated with leisure-time physical activity in public parks in diverse communities (Maddock)
  • Evaluation of interventions to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and decrease tobacco use in Hawai‘i (Maddock)

Environmental Health and Related Topics

  • Virus susceptibility in various natural marine animal populations (Lu)
  • Environmental virology and toxicology (Lu)
  • Disease management for Hawai‘i aquaculture (Lu)
  • Isolation and identification of anti-viral compounds from marine microorganisms (Lu)


  • Replicating evidence-based programs for healthy aging (Braun)
  • Tracking capacity building efforts in the Aging Network (Braun)

Health Disparities

  • Ethnic comparisons of 5-year breast cancer survival in Hawai`i (Braun)
  • Ethnic comparison of population structures and longevity in Hawai`i (Braun)
  • Hawaiian-Caucasian differences in nasal ciliary motility (Braun)
  • Assessment of cancer knowledge, attitudes, practices, and outreach preferences in Waimanalo (Braun)
  • Assessing needs and preferences for long-term care among Native-Hawaiian elders (Braun)
  • Institutionalizing recommended tobacco-cessation treatment guidelines in the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems (Braun)
  • Ethnic differences in smoking behavior (Grandinetti)
  • Supports and barriers of young adult Native Hawaiians to living a healthy lifestyle (Braun)

The OPHS graduate and adjunct faculty, as well as faculty in other departments and programs, encourages students to participate in ongoing research projects. This provides students with valuable research experience and the opportunity to contribute to professional publications and conference presentations. Positions as graduate research assistants are offered by a select number of OPHS research projects. Student-involved research may also be the result of an independent field practicum conducted through an outside agency.

Examples of student research follow:

  • Analysis of data on “remnant-like particles” newly obtained from the Honolulu Heart Program and presented as first author in a peer reviewed article.
  • Analysis of data on the Metabolic Syndrome using newly acquired lab results from frozen specimens from the Honolulu Heart Program. A manuscript is in preparation.
  • Analysis of data on dietary patterns of consumption from the Kohala Health Research Study.
  • Development and testing of a cancer screening intervention, findings from which were presented at national meetings and published in the CDC-online journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.
  • Fun 5 – a physical activity and nutrition project in elementary school children includes a graduate research assistant.
  • The Healthy Hawai‘i Initiative includes three graduate research assistants.