Michele Carbone, the controversial director of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, has resigned from his position, but will remain on the faculty. 

Jerris Hedges, dean of the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, is taking over as the cancer center’s interim director.

Faculty members were informed of the leadership change at a meeting Friday at the Sullivan Center.

“The faculty here is excellent. I think there is everything here for the cancer center to become one of the best in the country,” Carbone told the faculty, according to a UH transcript of the meeting. “We have to continue to work hard, we need to have the support of the community and the Legislature … The person who has been chosen is known to us. He is a personal friend of mine. I trust that the cancer center is being left in excelling hands for the time being.”

UH Cancer Center Director Dr. Michele Carbone.  1/14/14

UH Cancer Center Director Dr. Michele Carbone.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

UH at Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman told the faculty that under Carbone’s leadership the cancer center has “made great progress toward our dream of a world without cancer, through research, education and care.”

He said that Carbone wanted “to go back to the the faculty to devote himself to cancer research.”

Carbone is credited with successfully ushering through the construction of UH’s new Cancer Center in Kakaako.

However, he has been the subject of numerous faculty complaints and was seen by some as a cause for the firing of UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple in July. 

Twenty-five complaints were filed against Carbone by faculty and researchers, Hawaii News Now reported last year. He was accused of placing derogatory materials in faculty members’ personnel files to impugn their reputations and removing a researcher from an $8 million grant without informing him.

Under Carbone’s tenure, the Cancer Center also faced a deficit projected at $10 million annually, potentially exacerbating UH budget woes.

Apple tried to fire Carbone, but instead was let go himself, three years before his employment agreement was set to expire.

Some faculty members said they believed that Apple was fired in part because of his conflicts with Carbone. University officials, however, maintained that it had nothing to do with that, and pointed at the declining carryover balance as more of the reason.

In addition to vocal critics, Carbone has had strong supporters, including Hawaii Sen. Roz Baker and senior leadership at the Cancer Center.

Brian Issell, associate director for Clinical Sciences and Translational Research, told Civil Beat that he was “quite shocked” by Friday’s announcement of Carbone’s departure.

“I think it is a great setback for us,” he said. “Dr. Carbone has made enormous contributions through his leadership.”

About the Author