Philanthropy: A Medical Moonshot Outshines Box Jellyfish

Presented by Hawai‘i Community Foundation: (And HCF is Proud to Support that Success).

Dr. Angel Yanagihara

A grant from HCF helped Dr. Angel Yanagihara to develop a treatment for jellyfish stings.


In the medical world, research is the moonshot — the chance to find cures, develop treatments, and identify deadly toxins. Dr. Angel Yanagihara wasn’t thinking about that when she swam out from Kaimana Beach for her daily swim. That changed when box jellyfish attacked, stinging her repeatedly and leaving her unconscious on the beach. Fifteen years later, her journey to understand that debilitating and sometimes lethal toxin, develop a therapy treatment, and discover how to block the venom of the more deadly variety culminated with her work published in PLOS ONE, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.


Dr. Yanagihara’s journey started with a grant request to the Medical Research grant program at HCF. “The initial HCF program grant of $50,000 along with its continued support helped to sustain this work during the lean years between federal funding.”


That’s the mission behind HCF’s Medical Research grant program — to encourage local research for the benefit of Hawai‘i’s people. The program is made possible through multiple funders including the George F. Straub Trust and the Victoria S. and Bradley L. Geist Foundation. And an advisory team of local doctors and medical professionals carefully review grant proposals and select recipients.


Kudos to HCF for their commitment to local research and local researchers!”  —Dr. Angel Yanagihara


It all started off Kaimana Beach — a kama‘aina doctor, an insatiable curiosity, and the generosity of generations dedicated to medical research and discovery. 


Did you know? The HCF Medical Research grant program gives $800,000 annually to research projects ranging from medicinal use of Hawaiian plants to dietary factors contributing to eye health to Hawai‘i socioeconomic factors impacting health.


Hawaii Community Foundation

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