Vallejo, American Canyon students finish biotech internship at Touro University

Autopsies, Alzheimer's on curriculum
By Lanz Christian Bañes
Vallejo Times Herald @LanzCBañes on Twitter

POSTED:   06/27/2014 05:50:48 PM PDT

Local students finished Friday a biotechnology internship at Touro University, whetting their appetites for a future career in medicine.

"What you get most from the internship is a sense of helping someone. You're saving someone," said Vanessa Dadson, 17, an incoming senior at Mare Island Technology Academy and one of 13 participants of Touro's biotechnology internship.

The three-year-old program is part of the university's efforts to give back to the community. It is particularly important because existing internships for high schoolers are located at just-too-far universities, professor Shin Murakami said of programs in Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco and Davis.

"We're in the middle of a gap," Murakami said.

The typical internship class varies from about eight to 15 from year to year, Murakami said.

The program started June 17 and finished Friday. Typically, students do some clinic work in the mornings followed by research in the afternoons.

"My favorite memory was learning about osteopathic manipulative medicine. I felt that showed a whole different side of the medical field, and it's not just about prescribing drugs," said Angie Bustos, 16, an incoming junior at American Canyon High School.

Osteopathic medicine, an alternative to a traditional medical degree, is one of the hallmarks of Touro's medical school. Bustos hopes to one day become a doctor, focusing on oncology or pathology.

The biotechnology internship program has also formed close partnerships with the Vallejo High School Biotechnology Academy.

Wing Yan Chiu, 17, of Vallejo High School's Biotech Academy said the internship program reinforced and broadened what he learned at school.

"It was really fun. I also got to hold brains," Chiu said, of one of Murakami's lessons examining Alezheimer's disease.

Students got a close look at human anatomy through the school's autopsy labs.

Murakami said he was pleased by the work the students have done this summer.

"They are outstanding," he said.

Contact Lanz Christian Bañes at 707-553-6833.

Shin Murakami lectures

Professor Shin Murakami points out the difference in results as high school students in a biotechnology internship at Touro University learn about dementia on Friday in Vallejo. (CHRIS RILEY—VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD)