The Latest Taparra Lab Member News

Kekoa was recognized as the 2024 NextGen Disruptor Award winner by Healio | HemOnc Today. This award acknowledges an “up-and-coming physician who is disrupting the status quo in the field, whether through new techniques, new thoughts, questioning methods or breakthrough research.” The award announcement stated, “The winner consistently comes to mind when we discuss ‘the next big thing.’” This recognition highlights the importance of the team’s research and its potential impact on achieving health equity. (Photo Credit: Healio)

📢 Excited to share Bryce Takenaka’s latest paper on how anti-LGBTQ+ discourse impacted gay, bisexual, and other sexual minoritized (GBSMM) men during the monkey pox outbreak in BMC Public Health. Bryce, a PhD student at Yale School of Public Health, explores how stigma affected perceptions and access to vaccines. The study examines the role of government, non-government health institutions, and media in perpetuating stigmatizing narratives. It underscores the necessity for culturally tailored preventive messaging that avoids reinforcing stigma. Congrats Bryce!

Kekoa was the guest speaker at the 25th year celebration of Conquer Cancer The ASCO Foundation. The event raised over 4.7 million dollars to support lifesaving research and our mission. Our team appreciates the support from generous donors who contribute to the success of Conquer Cancer. Photo by © ASCO Matt Herp 2024.

In June, our team published a study in JAMA Health Forum highlighting significant disparities in Phase 2/3 oncology clinical trial representation. The study found that while the majority of studies in 4 high-impact journals publish race/ethnicity data, only 14% of trials report on American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) patients and 8% on Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (NHPI) patients. Relative to the US population with cancer, the representation quotients among these Indigenous groups were not just low, but zero. The results indicate a complete omission relative to their population with cancer. Congratulations to the team, including Ryan Benavente, Jonathan Shih, Megan Gimmen, Kā‘eo Kekumano, Eric Pineda, Paul Tominez, Giselle Halualani, and Henrietta Cakobau for bringing this important statistic to light. We are grateful for the major assistance from our incredible team of senior authors.
Congratulations to team member Kai Akimoto for his interview with the University of Minnesota Medical School. Kai has been a critical team member who advocates for better representation of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander patients in oncology clinical trials. He continues to aim to address and solve infrastructural healthcare inequalities. He is working towards developing training and rotation opportunities in the Pacific Islands to improve healthcare access and outcomes. Check out the article here:  "Improving Health at Home: Duluth Medical Student and Guam Native Kai Akimoto Works to Address Health Disparities Among Pacific Islanders."
Congratulations to Kāʻeo Kekumano for recently graduating with a BA degree in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology from Harvard University. Kāʻeo will be doing clinical research at Hawaii Pacific Health and taking classes at the University of Hawaiʻi focusing on Hawaiian and Indigenous Health and Healing in his year between graduation and starting medical school. Hoʻomaikaʻi!
Congratulations to Alana Egan on successfully being awarded an F31 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She plans to study substance use, suicidal ideation, and historical trauma in Pacific Islanders for her dissertation in the PATHS lab at the University of Rhode Island.
In May, Kekoa was invited to present at the Annual NIH Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Health Research Conference commemorating AANHPI May Heritage Month. The conference was sponsored by The National Cancer Institute. The Event was hosted by NIH AANHPI Health Scientific Interest Group (AANHPI-HSIG).
In May, Kekoa was invited to present at the Stanford Medicine Research Management Group about the team's work on Pacific Islander health and Pacific Islander data inclusion.
In April, Kekoa presented his team's research to the Hawaiʻi Medical Association as a part of the Continuing Medical Education program.
In March 2024, Kekoa was invited to the University of Pennsylvania to address Pacific Islander health at the 2024 ASAM Research Fellowship Symposium. He presented on the Public Health Panel entitled. Towards Healing: Uplifting Communities Through Public Health.
In March 2024, Kekoa presented his team's research on water sustainability in healthcare. The research was funded by the Stanford Health Care Sustainability SEED Grant program.

Kekoa was featured on the Conquer Cancer Foundation Meet the Researchers for the work funded by his ASCO Endowed Judith and Alan Kaur Young Investigator Award.

Kekoa was nominated for a Healio Disruptive Innovator Award in the NextGen Disruptor Category. Results to be announced at ASCO24.

Congratulations to team member Kai Akimoto for his successful publication in the March 2024 issue of JAMA. He underscores the urgent need for dedicated support for Pacific Islander medical students and physicians. Investing in physicians from within our communities, especially in rural areas, has significant potential for improving our population's health. The publication highlights the vital role of Pacific Islanders in addressing our health disparities and calls for policymakers and healthcare systems to commit to these populations.
Kekoa was featured in an interview written by Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton in the March 2024 issue of Ka Wai Ola, the newspaper of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Kekoa was invited to present as an invited speaker at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Excellence JEDI Seminar on February 27, 2024.

Congratulations to Nikki Apana on her first author publication published January 1, 2024 in JAMA Pediatrics. With senior authors Kekoa and Dr. DeVille. The year is off to a great start for Taparra Lab members! Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!

MedPage featured Kekoa in a profile featuring members of the Taparra Lab team, fellow Pacific Islander scholars Ryan Benavente and Megan Gimmen.

Kekoa co-authored a Perspective piece in the NEJM that offers insights from the Indigenous Native Hawaiian community on navigating the aftermath of the deadliest wildfire in modern US history. This work emphasizes the importance of a Native Hawaiian perspective in ensuring the future health and well-being of the Lāhianā community. If you require access to the article, please message us.

Check out Kekoa's featured interview from the New England Journal of Medicine focusing on the Lāhainā, Maui wildfires and the future of Pacific Islander health.

Congratulations to Nikki Kalani Apana on an incredibly important publication in JAMA about the devastating impact of the 2023 Lāhainā wildfires on Native Hawaiian health, emphasizing the urgent need for culturally sensitive mental and physical healthcare solutions, and the importance of integrating Native Hawaiian perspectives in rebuilding and healthcare workforce development. We are so proud of her advocay fo the Native Hawaiian community.

The ACCME accredited Continuing Medical Education content generating group Acapedia highlighted the Taparra Lab's work on racial disparities of brachytherapy treatment.

Congratulations to Ryan Benavente and Megan Gimmen on their publication in JAMA that discusses the nuances of "United States" data in the context of national health care economic burden and the importance of counting patients who are from the US-affiliated Pacific Islands. Their insight is invaluable to the Taparra lab.

The team came together for a group wide workshop Summer 2023. The team is growing! It was an incredible opportunity for all of the Taparra Lab team members to come together in one space. We represent NHPI and NHPI-allied researchers from across the nation. We collectively have a diversity of ideas and expertise. We aim to amplify Pacific Islander voices. Join Us!

Kekoa was invited to speak as guest lecturer for a summer course of Professor Corina Penaia's course on Health Disparities in September 2023 at UCLA. His lecture focused on NHPI health, data disaggregation, and negative impacts of structural racism in healthcare.

Kekoa presented a lecture entitled "Combatting Indigenous Erasure Through Pacific Islander Data Inclusion" to UCSF medical students as a part of the Native Health elective run by Nikki Kalani Apana in September 2023.

Kekoa was invited to give a lecture on NHPI health and NHPI reporting practices to the Stanford Medicine Health Equity Fellows. Find more about the program here.

Kekoa was invited to give a talk on Native Hawaiian health at the 2023 President Obama USA Leaders Summit in Chicago.

The lab had another awesome meeting in January to start off the calendar year with fellowship, writing workshop, and presentations by Kai Akimoto and Eric Pineda. Join Us!

Congratulations to Kai Akimoto on his first author review on Diversity in Cancer Care published in The Cancer Journal, co-mentored by Kekoa and Dr. Manali Patel.

February 2024, Indigenous Fijian/Tongan student Henrietta Cakobau led the first of our lab meeting's cultural sessions, sharing her experiences of Fijian culture, history, and traditions. Her talk brought together the group by bridging all of us from different ends of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Henrietta is truly a gift to our team!

Our team appreciates the generous support from the Conquer Cancer Foundation donors and the American Society of Clinical Oncology for their support in NHPI research.

The recent monthly lab meeting, enriched by a workshop on PowerPoint and the power of storytelling, highlighted the exceptional dedication of NHPI and allied scholars, whose collaboration and commitment are instrumental in driving change, fostering an environment of professional growth and enduring friendships within the lab.

Kekoa presented at the Stanford University School of Medicine on Native Hawaiian and and other Pacific Islander health disparities to an audience of medical students and physician assistant students in October 2023.

Kekoa presented at the Pasifika Grand Rounds hosted by City of Hope and Healing Association of Pacific Islanders (HAPI) in October 2023.

Congrats to Dr. Alice Huang and Jon Shih on their publication in The Laryngoscope focused on racial disparities on 30-day unplanned readmission rates among patients with head and neck cancers in the United States. Our team identified that NHPI and Black patients have higher rates of unplanned readmissions, compared to Non-Hispanic White patients.

The Taparra Lab stands with our ʻohana in Maui who have experienced the most fatal fire disaster of modern US History. The Maui Strong Fund is providing financial resources that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery for the devastating wildfires on Maui. HCF will not be collecting a fee for donations to the Maui Strong Fund; 100 percent of the funds will be distributed for community needs.

Kekoa was featured in the September 2023 issue of Ka Wai Ola. "Taparra is a Native Hawaiian resident physician at Stanford Health Care, where he is training to care for patients diagnosed with various cancers. He is originally from Mililani and is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools."

On World Cancer Day 2024, Stanford Cancer Institute highlighted the review paper by Kai Akimoto and Kekoa in The Cancer Journal. The interview covers the barriers with access within the Pacific to innovative oncology clinical trials. Check out the interview.

Kekoa was invited to speak as a panelist for the Junior Faculty/Early Career breakout session for the 2023 Stanford Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Research Training Program.

Kekoa was recently interviewed by the Stanford Report to discuss the importance of the Next Generation Faculty Symposium for early-career scientists transitioning into faculty positions.

Kekoa was recently interviewed by ASCO Connection to discuss the ongoign efforts to implement machine learning into health disparities research for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders with cancer.

Kekoa was selected as one of the Featured Speakers among hundreds of applicants across the country to present his work at the joint Stanford-Berkeley-UCSF Next Generation Faculty Symposium on November 17, 2023. Watch his presentation here.

Kekoa was invited to serve on a research panel at the 30th APAMSA National Conference in March 2024 Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV