UH Med Now

With generosity and passion, JABSOM faculty puts Hawaiʻi research on the map by investing in the next generation

Date: August 12th, 2022 in Alumni News, Breakthoughs, Collaboration, JABSOM News, Research    Print or PDF

Dr. Cass Nakasone is hoping to change the way the world sees research in Hawaiʻi.

The JABSOM 1998 alumnus, now a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, has always had a commitment to orthopedic research which was lacking in the state. Research, Nakasone suggests, is important for several reasons: it promotes clinical integrity, provides medical students and residents with opportunities for enrichment and growth and increases professional credibility within the state. As such, incorporating research into clinical practice has remained a priority With the support of Hawaii Pacific Health and the collaboration of Samantha Andrews, Ph.D, a recent graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Kinesiology Program, a productive research program was developed.

“I do think Hawaiʻi needs to increase its national presence in terms of what we’re doing here… people in the mainland don’t really know that there’s excellent medical care going on in Hawaiʻi…” Nakasone noted. “The students have been very hungry to get more research projects out there. Research provides intellectual and professional satisfaction… Plus, it helps them to achieve their next level goals, such as getting them accepted into competitive residency programs.”

In the last 2-3 years, JABSOM students or University of Hawaiʻi orthopaedic residents have spearheaded more than 50 research projects, with as many abstracts accepted to local, regional or national conferences and approximately 30 peer-reviewed publications. The majority of these have JABSOM students as the primary author. While the mentorship process has taken significant time and effort, the process benefits students, mentors and institutions. Nakasone strongly feels that successful research endeavors will greatly benefit a student’s potential for success in the future.

“It helps pave the way for the students to see that, hopefully when they come back to Hawaiʻi, it’s possible for them to have a successful academic and clinical career,” Nakasone said. “It gives the next generation something to strive for.”

In August, 25 students from JABSOM had the chance to attend and present at the Western Orthopaedic Association (WOA) Annual Meeting and the International Society for Technology in Arthroplasty (ISTA) International Congress, both held on Maui. Students will also have the opportunity to present at the Society for Asian American Surgeons (SAAS) Annual Meeting on Oahu in September.

However, in order for students to attend these gatherings, costs for registration, travel and lodging accommodations are factors in their attendance. While finding ways to support the students, Nakasone reached out to Dr. Thomas Kosasa, best known for his philanthropic efforts in advancing JABSOM’s mission of supporting the next generation of physicians.

Seeing the importance of the students’ research endeavors and their impact on advancing healthcare in the islands, Kosasa personally gifted Nakasone a check to fully fund the students’ registration fees and accommodations for upcoming events.

“It’s unbelievable,” Nakasone said. “We’ve been able to use the funds for students’ requests when they go to these conferences, and we have leftover funds to support students for next year.”

Kosasa’s generosity also speaks to the ‘aloha spirit’ that the islands are best known for – taking care of one another when one needs assistance, despite the current challenges that physicians face living in Hawaiʻi.

“A major reason why Hawaiʻi has the quality of physicians we have is because of those that are born and raised here and come back because of their families and the lives we have here,” Nakasone said. “Because of our culture, and the people we have, I have faith in the next generation and you have to invest in them too. I want the things that we’re doing here to have the academic credibility that I think we deserve and to inspire the next generation to stay or return.”

By Vina Cristobal, JABSOM Communications Coordinator

Dr. Cass Nakasone with JABSOM students. Courtesy photo.

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