7th Biotech Academy

Local High School Students Seize Their Futures at the 7th Annual Biotech Academy Summer Internship Program

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Gardenia Nava (L) and Nanki Sekhon (R) in TUC's Ultrasound Lab

For Nanki Sekhon, a Benicia High School senior who is in her second year of attending the Biotech Academy Summer Internship Program, it is the opportunity to work with and learn from those already on the path to practicing medicine that makes the summer internship stand out.

“There’ve been so many people and instructors helping out this year,” explains Ms. Sekhon. “The professors have been very friendly, and getting to talk and interact with medical students makes the experience very personal.”

Standing next to her while their peers use ultrasound to get glimpses of their own, working anatomy, Gardenia Nava, a senior at Vallejo High School who is also a certified medical assistant, adds, “It is great to do hands-on work, but it means so much more to do it with people who really know what they are doing like the medical students.”

Both Ms. Sekhon and Nava say that they plan on becoming doctors with the hope that they will come back to TUC as students years from now. Since its first 10 students, those who have come through the Biotech Academy have gone on to enroll in TUC and other prominent universities for careers in the health sciences, public health, and more.

The Biotech Academy Summer Internship Program first began in 2012 as an answer to the city of Vallejo’s request for additional community resources. With the help of his colleagues, Dr. Shin Murakami, Associate Professor of Basic Sciences in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, established the Biotech Academy to give high school students from Solano, Napa, and Contra Costa counties local access to academic opportunities for STEM learning. It emphasizes the caring nature of students to create a helping loop from Touro.

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Dr. Shin Murakami (Center L) with student volunteers Jeremy Yenpasook (L), Mariel Dologmandin (Center R), and Alyssa Villanueva (R)

Now in its seventh year, the Biotech Academy Summer Internship has selected just over 20 high school students from a pool of more than 150 applicants. The program presents students with hands-on work in TUC’s state of the art facilities like the Ultrasound Lab, Mobile Diabetes Education Center, Interprofessional Simulation Center, Anatomy Lab, and Genetics of Aging Lab. This year, Biotech Academy interns will receive four hours of training that provides a certification from the Alzheimer’s Association to show their commitment to the health sciences.

“We cover the science of aging from the viewpoints of anatomy, molecular biology, research, and clinical patient care,” explains Dr. Murakami. “Most students in the program have someone with Alzheimer’s disease in their family, and this program helps them to develop leadership skills and learn how to deal with it.”

For additional highlights from throughout the Biotech Academy Summer Internship with photos and video, visit here:

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Word from Student Doctor Volunteer Jeremy Yenpasook
Reconstructing the diets of ancient species

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