About PHREI - History


In October 1990, PHREI was formed to foster the creation and dissemination of new scientific knowledge through research and education to improve the healthcare and health status of veterans and citizens of the United States. 



In 2010, PHREI became the successor-in-interest to Pacific Health Research Institute (PHRI).  PHRI's history and experience became part of PHREI's background.  PHREI as PHRI's successor-in-interest vowed to continue PHRI's legacy.  This included 50 years of research in Hawaii starting in 1960.  A brief synopsis of that period follows:


1960-1974:  Early Years 

In 1960 a group of physicians from Honolulu’s Straub Clinic and other civic leaders established the first organization in Hawaii dedicated to medical research. The founders, led by Dr. Joseph E. Strode, believed that health research is the foundation of cutting-edge healthcare. Established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research organization independent of Straub Clinic, the organization was called Straub Medical Research Institute (SMRI).

Under the leadership of Dr. Fred I. Gilbert, Jr. and Dr. Robert A. Nordyke, SMRI conducted many small, locally funded projects with Investigators drawn primarily from Straub Clinic. Then, in 1966, Dr. Gilbert obtained SMRI’s first large grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the ensuing years, SMRI conducted many NIH-funded research projects. Gradually, SMRI matured from a small, locally focused organization into an internationally recognized research center with investigators from Hawaii’s leading medical and academic institutions.


In 1974, the Board of Directors decided to rename SMRI. The new title, Pacific Health Research Institute, was believed to better reflect the organization’s growth in stature and widening research focus.

In the same year, the NIH National Cancer Institute chose PHRI to undertake the “Breast Cancer Detection and Demonstration Project.” PHRI screened 10,000 women per year for five years and prospectively monitored their health to assess the effectiveness of mammograms in the early detection of breast cancer. The resulting recommendation that mammograms be made part of a woman’s annual physical examination had a major national impact.

Also in 1974, PHRI, in collaboration with the Queen’s Medical Center, won funding for the “Aspirin Myocardial Infarction Study,” an important investigation into the propensity of small doses of aspirin to prevent heart attacks.

In 1992, the National Cancer Institute awarded PHRI its largest and most enduring project. The multi-center “Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial” was originally awarded as a nine year, $7 million project. It has now grown into a 19 year, $34 million effort that has spun off numerous ancillary studies as investigators continue to research this cohort.