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Kuakini Researchers & Affiliates


Kamal Masaki, M.D.

Kamal Masaki, M.D., is the Director of Research at Kuakini Medical Center.  She is also a Professor and Chair of the Department of Geriatric Medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii.  She completed Internal Medicine Residency training at Michigan State University and Geriatric Medicine Fellowship training at the University of Hawaii.  She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society.  She has been a Co-Investigator and Clinical Director for many large longitudinal epidemiologic studies over the past 22 years, including the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, Kuakini Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study, Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study, and related offspring studies.  She was Principal Investigator for the Hawaii site of the ERA-JUMP study of coronary calcification in men.  She was a Co-Investigator and Clinical Director for the Women's Health Initiative Hawaii Clinical Center, and Principal Investigator for an ancillary study, the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study Hawaii Center. 

Dr. Masaki supervised the clinical operations of all the examinations of the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program and Kuakini Honolulu-Asia Aging Study over the past 22 years.  She has extensive experience in development and testing of data collection instruments, standardized training of staff, quality control, development of Research Operations Manual and policies/procedures, collection and storage of biologic specimens, recruitment of research participants, data entry and cleaning, and coordinating examinations for clinical studies.  She has worked on many multicenter, multidisciplinary studies, and has successfully worked with scientists from other U.S. and international research institutions and with various government and private funding agencies.  She is the Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence in Geriatrics at the University of Hawaii, and Principal Investigator of a training grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.  She is Co-Principal Investigator for the Pacific Islands Geriatric Education Center (HRSA grant, PI 2008-2013).  She was previously Principal Investigator of the Hawaii Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) grant from the National Institute on Aging, which designated the University of Hawaii as one of seven national training centers for aging research (2005-2010).  She has a strong track record for mentoring medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty in aging research.

Dr. Masaki has an extensive peer-reviewed publication record and has special expertise in research involving Japanese and Okinawan American populations.  Currently, Dr. Masaki is a Co-Investigator for the Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study and Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study that are funded by the National Institute on Aging; and she is the Principal Investigator of the new Kuakini HHP Offspring Study, a longitudinal epidemiologic study of the sons and daughters of the original HHP cohort, that is funded by Kuakini Medical Center. 


Bradley Willcox, M.D.

Bradley J. Willcox M.D., MSc. trained in Medicine at the University of Toronto, Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, and Geriatric Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Willcox is Principal Investigator of the National Institute on Aging-funded Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study and Kuakini Healthspan Study, which are ancillary studies on aging from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program.  He has been a participating researcher with the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program for over a decade.  He is also Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, located on the Kuakini Health System campus.  Dr. Willcox is the Co-Principal Investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study and has been investigating mechanisms of aging for almost two decades with this study.

Dr. Willcox’s research teams have identified several genetic and environmental risk factors for aging and aging-related chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases.  His research team in Okinawa identified the first longevity-associated gene (Takata et al., Lancet, 1987) that was replicated in an independent population.  His research team in Hawaii was the first to identify the association (widely replicated since) of the FOXO3 gene on human longevity (Willcox et al., PNAS, 2008), and the first to replicate the protective effect on longevity of the CETP gene, and the first to extend the CETP gene’s role to include human healthspan (Koropatnick et al., Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 2008).  These genes appear to act, at least in part, through cardiovascular pathways to influence healthy aging and mortality.

Dr. Willcox has published widely in the genetic, environmental, and clinical aspects of healthy aging.  He is on the Editorial Board of several leading gerontological journals, including the Journals of Gerontology (Biological and Medical Sciences). He is a frequent reviewer for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and the Journal of the American Medical Association.  He has been recognized with a Dorothy Dillon Eweson Award for Advances in Aging Research, the Henry Christian Award from the American Federation for Medical Research, a Director’s Citation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and other honors.  He is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.  Dr. Willcox is also the author of a New York Times best-selling book on healthy aging. His work has appeared in cover articles of Time Magazine, National Geographic, and on Oprah, Good Morning America, NOVA Science, BBC, and other media.

Dr. Willcox is active in the Hawaii community, especially the Okinawan community.  He is a member of the local Okinawan Chamber of Commerce and acts as an Okinawan Goodwill Ambassador on behalf of the Okinawan Prefectural government.


Timothy Donlon, Ph.D.

Timothy Atchison Donlon, Ph.D., is the Director of the Kuakini Genetics Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from the Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland and is an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Cell & Molecular Biology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii. He completed a fellowship in Human Genetics at the Children’s Hospital, Boston and is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics in the specialties of Clinical Molecular Genetics, Clinical Cytogenetics, and Ph.D. Medical Genetics. 

He has been a Co-Investigator on National Institutes of Health funded projects involving: Energy-Sensing Pathways, Healthy Aging, and Longevity; Defining the Healthy Aging Genotypes; Pacific Genetic Epidemiologic Study on Aging; Genetic Determinants of Human Hypertension; Epidemiology of Brain Aging in the Very Old; Heart Failure Disparities in Native Hawaiians; Cancer Family Register; Epidemiologic Research on Ethnic/Racial Minorities in the Colon CFR; and Genes, Diet, and Carcinogens Activation in Smokers. 

Dr. Donlon’s main research interests are in the genetics of aging, complex genetic disorders, pharmacogenetics, cancer genetics, and molecular cytogenetics.  He previously founded the Molecular and Cytogenetics Laboratory at Stanford Medical Center; the Molecular and Clinical Cytogenetics Laboratory at the Kapiolani Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Genetics Laboratory at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He is the Owner and Director of Ohana Genetics, Inc., a genetic diagnostic company. 

Dr. Donlon has received several awards from the NL Tartar Research Fellowship and an award for research from The Medical Foundation, Boston.  He has mentored students, residents, and fellows at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii. 

Dr. Donlon’s early research involved: 1) the development of in situ hybridization for visualizing DNA probes on cytologic preparations; his contribution was the use of “suppression hybridization” that allowed large, cloned DNA segments to be used as probes instead of sub-cloned fragments, thus increasing their signal strengths and reducing the efforts for visualization, 2) the isolation of DNA segments from the first described microdeletion syndrome, Prader-Willi; his contributions were to selectively clone DNA segments from proximal chromosome 15q11.2 using novel approaches in genomic library construction and screening, and 3) genomic mapping of human chromosome 15; his contribution was that he was appointed Chairman of chromosome 15 in the Human Genome Organization, HUGO and organized the first four workshops on chromosome 15.  Recently, in the Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study, he has identified the FOXO3 gene to be involved in human longevity.


John Grove, Ph.D.

John S. Grove, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine.  He was Head of the Biostatistics Specialization at the Department of Public Health Sciences for fifteen years.   He holds a M.S. degree in the Genetics Curriculum from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Hawaii.

Dr. Grove was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Departments of Medical Genetics, University of Wisconsin and Indiana School of Medicine, and a Visiting Investigator at the Population Genetics Research Laboratory, University of Hawaii.  He was project biostatistician for the Kuakini Japan-Hawaii Cancer Study, which is a sister project of the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, in 1986 to 1987. He joined the University of Hawaii, School of Public Health’s Biostatistics Program as Associate Professor in 1987 and was Head of this program from 1995 until his retirement in 2010. 

Dr. Grove has been a long-time collaborator with the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, and he served as the Director of Statistical Genetics at the Pacific Health Research Institute from 1999 to 2010.  He is currently Co-Investigator for the Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study and Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study.   He is author or co-author of more than one hundred publications. Most of these publications are in the fields of chronic disease epidemiology and genetic epidemiology.