Centers chief arrives
The new director from GermanyBy Helen Altonn
brings a lab and three researchers
to his crowded UH quarters
The new director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii brought a laboratory and three researchers from Germany only to find "every nook and cranny filled" at the facility.
Carl-Wilhelm Vogel, 48, says finding more space for the growing program at 1236 Lauhala St. is one of his first big tasks.
"To grow and develop, with new services and research avenues, we need to hire new faculty, to put them in a room and in a laboratory with attractive start-up funding," he said.
Friends of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii will welcome Vogel at a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Plaza Club.
He started his new job April 1 but had to attend two preplanned conferences and return to Germany to pack up his laboratory.
He was formerly chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Hamburg.
Although he's a clinical pathologist, Vogel said he's "by and large a biomedical research practitioner." He's studying neuro-blastoma, a rare but deadly type of cancer of nerve cells in the adrenal glands, he said.
A graduate student and two post-doctoral students came from Hamburg to continue working with him.
"It's an exciting program," he said.
He brought a 40-foot container full of laboratory equipment, including some items not available at the center, which will be "a shared resource."
The university agreed as part of Vogel's appointment to fund three additional faculty positions for the center's development. One will be a molecular geneticist in cancer, he said.
To hire new faculty and continue to grow, however, more space must be found for offices and laboratories, Vogel said. "Each room is used. We don't have people coming in shifts."
He said the present building was designed so a floor could be added, which is one possibility. He also is exploring other options, such as a biotechnology center development discussed for Kakaako.
Vogel replaced Brian Issell, who had been trying for several years to leave the director's post to do more patient care, research and teaching. Issell was the highest-paid executive at UH, with an annual salary of $188,808.
Vogel is receiving $200,000 a year. But he said his total compensation at the University of Hamburg was greater, including a retirement package and income as director of laboratory services. Although he was "at the very top of the pyramid" there, he said, "I had to make up my mind where I wanted to stay the rest of my life."
He began looking around at opportunities, and the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii was searching for a director. One of the major attractions, he said, was "the faculty wanted me badly."
His primary mission is to try to spur funding and development of the center, currently a $15 million annual operation involving about 160 people, he said. The center is highly regarded internationally for its research, much of which is directly related to Hawaii, Vogel pointed out. "Quite a few research programs take advantage of the local environment, ethnic mix, microorganisms and plants."
Despite that, the center's identity isn't well-established in the community, he said.
For example, it sometimes gets checks made out to the American Cancer Society, he said. "There's nothing wrong with the American Cancer Society," he said. But the research center is an arm of the University of Hawaii. The UH administration has talked about combining the Cancer Research Center and Biomedical Research Center, and the School of Public Health, with the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Vogel said the center's external advisers, including other cancer research center directors, have twice opposed that idea. As a National Cancer Institute-designated center, he said, its "director must have authority over space, budget and programmatic direction."
Who: Carl-Wilhelm Vogel
A NEW FACE
What: Director, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii
Personal: 48, married.
Background: Vogel was formerly chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Hamburg, where he had earned a doctoral degree in biochemistry and a medical degree. Vogel did postdoctoral research training in molecular immunology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in California and completed a residency in clinical pathology at Georgetown University and Indiana University. He was on the Georgetown School of Medicine faculty for eight years and was a member of the Vincent Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C.