TAG: "Students"

Students learn by doing good

Global children’s oral health, nutrition program helps stem tooth decay around the world.

Global Children's Oral Health and Nutrition ProgramEvery year since 2010, Dr. Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, Dr. Susan Ivey and a group of students have taken toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a big pink and white model of teeth to Latin America and, since 2011, Asia. There, they teach communities about nutrition and oral health. The Global Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Program was created to stem the epidemic rise in tooth decay in developing countries around the world. Sokal-Gutierrez is an associate clinical professor and Ivey an associate adjunct professor in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Both teach in the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Joint Medical Program.

The program began in El Salvador in 2003, where Sokal-Gutierrez noticed a trend in tooth decay of children up to 6 years old. Since then, the program has expanded to Nepal, India, Vietnam, Ecuador and Peru. Sokal-Gutierrez and Ivey estimate that the program has served about 10,000 children and their parents since its inception. But the Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Program has also made another big impact, this time on the UC Berkeley campus: bringing transformative experiences to students launching their careers in public health, medicine and dentistry.

“How can we do our best to improve the health of children, and how can we do our best to mentor the students and give them this good hands-on opportunity?” asks Sokal-Gutierrez. “I’m always trying to pay attention to both of those things.”

In the decade since it began, nearly 200 volunteers have participated in the program. Most are UC Berkeley undergraduates who plan to pursue careers in public health, medicine, and dentistry. They also include graduate students and professionals from the fields of medicine, dentistry and public health. Additionally, Sokal-Gutierrez and Ivey often seek out students whose families emigrated from countries where this program might be needed. It offers a chance for students to connect abstract concepts to real-world scenarios, take on positions of leadership, and be mentors in medicine and public health.

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UC Davis seeks to break world record for largest heart formation

Feb. 7 will be first UC Davis Wears Red Day to promote heart health.

Maria “Lupe” Espinoza, a UC Davis senior who is majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior is part of Alpha Pi Sigma and one of the Battle Heart Disease Fair's main coordinators.

Maria “Lupe” Espinoza, a UC Davis senior who is majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior is part of Alpha Pi Sigma and one of the Battle Heart Disease Fair's main coordinators.

The University of California, Davis, studies the heart, treats the heart and promotes heart health in a big, big way, to be demonstrated Friday, Feb. 7, when thousands of students, staff and faculty will try to set a new world record for largest heart formation.

This show of force against heart disease — the No. 1 killer in the United States — will be happening on the first UC Davis Wears Red Day, coinciding with National Wear Red Day, sponsored annually by the Heart Truth Campaign and the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart disease as the leading cause of death among women.

“To show just how dedicated we are to this important cause, we have set our sights incredibly high,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said of the university’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record of 11,166 people in a heart formation, set in February 2010 in the state of Nuevo León, Mexico.

UC Davis is going for 12,000 people covering about an acre on the Davis campus. Everyone in the community, on or off campus, is invited to join in.

Participants are asked to wear red; many students, staff and faculty are expected to put aside their regular Aggie Pride Friday shirts (in blue) in favor of special red shirts with the outline of a heart on the front. They’re on sale at all UC Davis Stores and online; $1 from every shirt sale goes to the UC Davis Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program for its education and outreach efforts.

“On UC Davis Wears Red Day, we are making a statement about taking good care of our hearts — by adopting healthy lifestyles and starting prevention early,” said cardiologist Amparo Villablanca, director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program, which, when it began 20 years ago, was the nation’s first program dedicated to women’s heart health.

Villablanca and Adele Zhang, a lecturer in the UC Davis Department of Design, have been addressing heart health awareness in their own unique way every February for the last five years — with beautiful red dresses. Zhang and her students design and make them, and Villablanca presents them at her annual Women’s Heart Care Education and Awareness Forum for Community Leaders.

This year, Chancellor Katehi is collaborating with Villablanca and Zhang to expand the “wear red” campaign throughout the university community, to remind everyone of the importance of heart-disease prevention.

The most red will emanate from the Hutchison Intramural Field, where organizers will cordon off an area for the heart formation and count people as they enter to be part of the record-breaking attempt. Participants are asked to start gathering at 11:30 a.m.; official photographs will be taken at about 12:30 p.m.

Then comes the Battle Heart Disease Fair, free and open to the public, from 1 to 4 p.m. in The Pavilion, next door to the IM field. UC Davis’ Alpha Pi Sigma sorority is organizing the fair, to include information tables and health screenings.

For more information, call UC Davis Ceremonies and Special Events, (530) 754-2262.

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Research team enlists ‘citizen-sensors’ to improve world health

UC San Diego researchers and students seek crowdfunding support for project.

Researchers are going to deploy sensing devices in the field connected to mobile apps that allow them to track the health of individuals and the environment.

Researchers are going to deploy sensing devices in the field connected to mobile apps that allow them to track the health of individuals and the environment.

Enterprising researchers and students at UC San Diego are looking for funding to complete a “citizen-sensor” project that, they hope, will revolutionize global health and environmental monitoring – especially in remote and undeveloped areas of the planet.

They also hope to attract the faith and funding of people around the world through the open, global crowdfunding resource Indiegogo, the first partnership between UC San Diego and a funding platform.

The Indiegogo campaign, they stress, is more a call for widespread citizen participation in health monitoring than a simple appeal for funds.

“What if you could hold the power of modern medical equipment in the palm of your hand?” they ask. The device the students call “a cool gizmo” can also monitor your environment’s health by sampling the air, soil, and water for pollutants, then analyze and report the findings.

For non-Star Trek fans, the gizmo is much like the “tricorder” of the popular sci-fi series — a nifty handheld device used for scanning, analyzing, and recording data. Less evocatively named, but nearly as high-tech, the UC San Diego device is called the Open Health Stack.

It would beneficially alter the landscape of the medical economy, researchers say, first by changing how people sense and perceive their own health, and then by collecting enough data to enable changes to environmental practices or policies.

Making those ambitious goals a reality is the role of their Distributed Health Lab, a collaboration between UC San Diego’s School of Medicine and the Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Drs. Albert Yu-Min Lin and Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, co-directors of the lab, and co-principal investigators for the project, say that the multidisciplinary nature of the project will be key to its success. “We have a large number of truly talented collaborators in the School of Medicine as well in the School of Engineering,” says Lin. “Helping their different skills to coalesce, along with the amazing energy and imagination of our students, will be instrumental.”

The researchers and students – from such diverse fields as nanoengineering, medicine, machine-learning, cryptography, crowdsourced archaeology, citizen science, and human & computer ethnography – are building the Open Health Stack using cloud infrastructure, mobile apps and sensors that will collect and analyze data from individuals and the environment.

The first “layer” of the stack is SENSE, the heart of the gizmo, a health-and-environment sensor that tracks vital signs and measures, for example, heavy metals in water or cholera in streams. The pocket-size device enables users to learn more about their surroundings.

The next layer is MyOasis, a mobile app that interacts with the sensors and lets users monitor and report what the sensors discover. MyOasis visualizes data collected by SENSE, allowing users to “see” things invisible to the eye, such as heart rates.

The final layer is KEEP, a secure data-storage-and-analysis platform that detects large-scale trends, like flu outbreaks, with the help of machine-learning algorithms.

“Together,” Aronoff-Spencer says, “they provide an end-to-end solution for collecting and analyzing data at the individual, community, and global levels.”

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New grants to advance career opportunities for young scientists

UC Davis, UCSF two of 10 academic institutions nationwide to receive NIH BEST awards.

Fred Meyers, UC Davis

Fred Meyers, UC Davis

As part of a national effort to broaden scientific training opportunities for young scientists and engineers and better prepare them for a wide variety of careers, the National Institutes of Health has awarded UC Davis a five-year, $1.7 million grant to support the Frontiers of University Training to Unlock the Research Enterprise (FUTURE) program   ̶ a campuswide effort that will expand academic offerings, internships and other experiential learning in the biomedical sciences for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. UC San Francisco also received one of the NIH Director’s Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards.

UC Davis and UCSF are two of only 10 academic institutions nationwide to receive this first-of-its-kind funding.

“Traditionally, training and career development have been narrowly focused on academic research,” said Fred Meyers, executive associate dean at the UC Davis School of Medicine and one of three principal investigators of the FUTURE program. “But graduate students and postdoctoral scientists need opportunities to develop new skills to enjoy successful careers in today’s diverse employment market. The FUTURE program will provide more opportunities to gain these important skills, increase satisfaction among scholars in training and develop scientists who are well-prepared for the workforce and can make the world a better place to live.”

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Grad student finds her calling in medical research

UC Merced emphasizes personal attention to students.

UC Merced graduate student Portia Mira has always liked helping people and learning ever since she found refuge in school from her dysfunctional home life.

She focuses on taking care of others, including her younger, disabled sister, and her work at UC Merced is no different.

By researching antibiotics with professor Miriam Barlow and School of Natural Sciences Dean Juan Meza and participating in Barlow’s Project Protect program, she gets to help people with their real-life health problems.

Mira, Barlow and Meza research resistance genes in mutated and antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and are looking for a way to drive the bacteria back to its original state – in which it was vulnerable to basic antibiotics. The hope is to not only help cure the E. coli infection, but to learn how to drive other bacterial infections back to that vulnerable state, because bacteria have rapidly evolved to resist conventional medicines.

Mira also helps Barlow with her Facebook and Twitter campaign called Project Protect, which is a way for Barlow and her student researchers to help the public get more information about antibiotics and infectious diseases.

“The medical field – and human health in general – really piques my interest. I really want to be able to have an impact on people and the community at large, whether it is through direct contact with patients in a hospital or doing research that could be used in a hospital to treat patients,” Mira said. “I have just found my place in the ‘background’ so to speak, with research that I hope will make it to the community.”

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UC Global Health Institute receives $4M gift

Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation funding supports new education, research programs.

The Los Angeles-based group was founded by world-renowned surgeon, inventor and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., and his wife, Michele Chan.

The Los Angeles-based group was founded by world-renowned surgeon, inventor and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., and his wife, Michele Chan.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation has given $4 million to the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI) to support new cross-campus and interdisciplinary education and research programs that aim to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable people and communities throughout California and across the globe.

The Los Angeles-based group was founded by world-renowned surgeon, inventor and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., and his wife, Michele Chan.

“We look at this not merely as a donation for today, but a partnership for tomorrow,” said Soon-Shiong. “The UCGHI has a distinguished legacy of working to cure the ill and enhance the well-being of those in need the world over. To support the talented and dedicated individuals who enable the institute to do so — from the classroom to the lab — is a true honor.”

This gift, the first installment of which was given in 2011 anonymously at Chan and Soon-Shiong’s request, will be used to fund research fellowships and scholarships to UC faculty, postdocs, graduate and professional students, as well as support unique multicampus, interdisciplinary research programs.

At the core of the UCGHI mission is a commitment to expanding educational opportunities that would not be possible without multiple campuses and disciplines banding together. This gift is funding the initial strategic planning for a multicampus master’s degree program in global health — the first of its kind. At present, a proposal for the two-year degree program is under campus review.

In addition, this gift will enable the UCGHI to launch new initiatives, such as a 10-campus lecture series that will use technology to connect people across the UC system, and a “global health incubator” to generate the innovative ideas that can solve the world’s pressing global health problems.

Soon-Shiong is a celebrated innovator and inventor, having pioneered groundbreaking treatments in diabetes and cancer. He developed the nation’s first biological chemotherapy nanoparticle (Abraxane), which is now approved for the treatment of breast cancer and lung cancer. Abraxane has succeeded in Phase 3 trials in pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Soon-Shiong also created, cultivated and later sold two multibillion dollar companies, American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis Bioscience. He is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and ranked by Forbes as the wealthiest American in the health care industry and in Los Angeles. He is also executive director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and a UCLA visiting professor of bioengineering and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. Soon-Shiong and Chan, who is a television and film actress, were both born and raised in South Africa.

Soon-Shiong received surgical and research training at the University of British Columbia and UCLA under the mentorship of Haile Debas, director of the UCGHI and chancellor emeritus of UC San Francisco.

“As an African, and as a former academic surgeon and researcher, Patrick is keenly aware of the value and promise of different disciplines coming together to improve health for the underserved,” says Debas, who also was dean of the School of Medicine and executive director of Global Health Sciences at UCSF. “With this gift, he has challenged the UC campuses to think outside the box and to create new opportunities for students and faculty to implement innovative, practical initiatives that will improve the health of the underserved here in the United States and in developing countries.”

Based on the UCSF campus, the UCGHI is co-directed by UCLA’s Thomas J. Coates, the Michael and Sue Steinberg Endowed Professor of Global AIDS Research and the founding director of the Center for World Health at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. The institute also has a presence on most of the UC campuses through its three multicampus Centers of Expertise (COE) – Migration & Health; One Health: Animals, Water, Food & Society; and Women’s Health & Empowerment — that break out of traditional academic structures to create new, interdisciplinary ways of solving health problems.

The centers have shared global health curricula via videoconferencing and online courses, and their faculty have contributed to UCSF’s one-year master’s degree program in global health sciences.

“Students are demanding a global education, and one mission of the UCGHI is to prepare the next generation of global health leaders,” says Coates. “We are providing students with real-world experiences and skills, essential for their success in working with partners around the world to provide real solutions to the ever-changing landscape of global health problems.”

The UCGHI also supports students and trainees with fellowship and scholarship programs, including the GloCal Health Fellowship, which is funded with $4 million over five years from the NIH’s Fogarty International Center. It will support 50 to 60 fellows from across the UC system. In all, the UCGHI is making available $7 million to UC students, faculty and postdocs through 2017 to pursue global health research and service. Much of this funding would not have been possible without the leveraging power of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation gift.

In addition to providing funding to students and trainees, the UCGHI hosts the annual UC Global Health Day, which brings together faculty, students and staff to highlight the research taking place across the University of California and to provide a forum for sharing and networking (see video about the 2013 UC Global Health Day, which was held at UC Riverside). Through oral presentations and posters, faculty and students learn about fieldwork their peers are doing around the world and cutting-edge research being conducted on the campuses.

The UCGHI initially was launched in 2009 with a $4 million planning grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It also receives funding from the UC Office of the President.

“With 10 campuses combining their scientific and educational expertise, and galvanizing resources around a common goal, great things can be achieved,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “The UC Global Health Institute is a terrific example of UC’s potential to improve the lives of people in California and around the world.”

About the UC Global Health Institute

The UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI) advances the mission of the University of California to improve the health of all people in California and around the world. By stimulating education, research and partnerships, UCGHI leverages the diverse intellectual resources across the University to produce global health leaders and accelerate the discovery and implementation of transformative global health solutions. For more, visit www.ucghi.universityofcalifornia.edu.

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Bay Area Science Festival features events for all ages

10-day festival runs through Nov. 2.

Zoe Ghislain, 7, left, and brother Max, 6, look at a sheep's heart during Discovery Days at AT&T Park in 2012.

Zoe Ghislain, 7, left, and brother Max, 6, look at a sheep's heart during Discovery Days at AT&T Park in 2012.

Let scientists demonstrate how to play with your food at the local farmer’s market. Learn how to survive a zombie attack on Halloween night. Or sip a cocktail in the company of robots.

The third annual Bay Area Science Festival is rolling out a variety of fun, informative events for all ages to celebrate the role of science, engineering and technology in the region and around the world. Produced by the Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) at UC San Francisco, the 10-day festival involves a number of science institutions, including UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the California Academy of Sciences, the Chabot Space & Science Center, and the Tech Museum.

The festival kicked off Thursday (Oct. 24) at the new Exploratorium in San Francisco with an “After Dark” event that featured a series of guest lectures and the debut of Homouroboros, a large-scale interactive zoetrope by artist Peter Hudson, in the public plaza at Pier 15.

More than 30 events later, the festival culminates with Discovery Days at AT&T Park on Saturday, Nov. 2, when the entire ballpark will be transformed into a playground for science exploration. The free daylong event, which drew more than 30,000 people last year, will have 150 exhibits, as well as the first-ever Robot Zoo showcasing innovations curated by the Silicon Valley Robotics.

Check out the full event schedule on the Bay Area Science Festival website.

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Being the change

Unique medical school program at UC Davis links community health with individual health.

UC Davis' TEACH-MS program is a natural fit for first-year medical student Diego Vargas, who wants to help both individuals and their communities.

UC Davis' TEACH-MS program is a natural fit for first-year medical student Diego Vargas, who wants to help both individuals and their communities.

For Diego Vargas, the “aha moment” came when he was as an undergraduate working in one of UC Davis’ student-run health clinics, serving primarily uninsured and often undocumented patients. Originally from Peru, and an undocumented immigrant himself, Vargas witnessed how health care disparities damage low-income communities in California.

“I saw a lot of poverty in Peru but couldn’t even imagine there were similar situations in the U.S.,” says Vargas. “Seeing this for the first time shocked me and made me think about why I wanted to become a doctor. It really pushed me in my studies.”

Vargas is now a first-year medical student in the Transforming Education and Community Health for Medical Students (TEACH-MS) Program at UC Davis, which prepares a new generation of physicians to care for medically underserved residents in urban settings. Six students are enrolled in the program, now in its third year at UC Davis.

The program is a natural fit for Vargas, who wants to help both individuals and their communities.

“In an urban environment, you can’t simply treat patients in isolation,” Vargas says. “You have to understand where they’re coming from – where they live.”

While the program is strong in fundamental medical education, it goes the extra mile to teach students how to disseminate health information while being sensitive to cultural and economic obstacles.

“We’re trying to bring specific health messages to entire communities,” says Vargas. “By addressing issues in the community, we hope that will narrow down to the individual. But it has to be realistic. If we emphasize nutrition, we can’t tell people to eat foods that are out of their price range.”

Given the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, nutritional education is high on the list. But there are other health issues that disproportionately strike urban neighborhoods such as cancer, heart disease and drug abuse. The program provides students with the tools to address these issues on both the community and individual levels to improve overall health.

“We are looking at the community and saying, ‘Okay, what can we do to help this person and also help the many others who are just like him?’,” says Vargas.

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UC Davis nursing school opens applications for 2014 classes

Generous financial support available.

Deborah Ward, UC Davis

Deborah Ward, UC Davis

Applications are now open for fall 2014 classes in the Master of Science — Leadership and the Doctor of Philosophy Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership Degree Programs offered through the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. The school provides generous financial support to all admitted fall 2014 students. This support is offered to committed, creative leaders who share the vision to transform health care through nursing education and research.

“Health care settings desperately need leaders during this time of massive changes,” said Deborah Ward, associate dean for academics. “It is essential for more providers to see where their expertise is needed and to respond. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is your first step in becoming a health care leader.”

Ward said the school seeks a diverse student population with varying backgrounds and work experiences; which is why the school is offering each admitted master’s-degree leadership and doctoral student generous financial support for tuition and fees and additional expenses. This support is made possible by the founding $100 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and additional scholarship sources.

Setting this graduate program apart from others, the Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership Degree Programs prepare nurse leaders, researchers and faculty in a unique interdisciplinary and interprofessional environment. As with other graduate groups at UC Davis, this program engages faculty from across the campus with expertise in nursing, medicine, health informatics, nutrition, biostatistics, public health and other fields.

The Doctor of Philosophy program prepares graduates as health-care and health policy leaders and nurse faculty/researchers at the university level. Entering doctoral-degree students receive $45,000 per academic year for four years. This support fully covers fees and tuition with the remainder intended as a stipend to help offset loss of income while concentrating on doctoral studies.

The Master of Science — Leadership program prepares students for health care leadership roles in a variety of organizations and as nurse faculty at the community college and prelicensure education levels. Entering master’s degree students receive a $40,000 scholarship over two years to go toward tuition and fees. Out-of-state and international packages are individually examined and approved.

The general application deadline is Jan. 15, 2014, with acceptances announced in March. All admission slots are expected to fill during this period. Applications submitted from Jan. 15 to May 31, 2014, are reviewed on a space-available basis only.

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Students collaborate at Interprofessional Education Day

Event is part of UCSF’s effort to break down barriers between its various schools.

Students work in teams to brainstorm ideas during Interprofessional Education Day at UC San Francisco. (Photo by Susan Merrell, UCSF)

Students work in teams to brainstorm ideas during Interprofessional Education Day at UC San Francisco.

UC San Francisco’s Millberry Union gym took on the look of a political convention on Monday afternoon, with 500 first-year students packing the floor beneath signs indicating all 50 states.

Rather than teaching the students about politics, however, the future health professionals gathered in the gym could probably teach a thing or two about collaboration and cooperation to the nation’s politicians.

Monday was “Interprofessional Education Day,” the kickoff event for UCSF’s Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Education. In an effort to reflect the way health care is actually delivered today – by teams of professionals working together – UCSF is breaking down barriers between its various schools, and enabling students of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy to collaborate on projects.

“No one of us is going to have the competence to provide complete care. That’s why we’re going to have to work in teams,” said Kevin Grumbach, M.D., chair of family and community medicine in UCSF’s School of Medicine. “You are not the most important person in the health care delivery system, which may come as a shock to some of you. The most important person is the patient.”

In emphasizing a model of patient-centric care­ ­– and in bringing all of its students together to work in that direction – UCSF aims to take a leadership role in the national movement toward interprofessional education, according to Elizabeth Watkins, Ph.D., dean of UCSF’s Graduate Division and vice chancellor of student academic affairs.

“We want to take advantage of having all five health professions represented here at UCSF,” Watkins said. “These team exercises will spark their enthusiasm and inform their role in what the new world of health care will look like.”

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UC Davis hosts 7,000 future faces of medicine, other health careers

Conference will be Oct. 12-13.

Adela de la Torre, UC Davis

Adela de la Torre, UC Davis

About 7,000 high school, community college and university students will learn about educational and career opportunities in the health and medical fields as they engage with people from more than 400 medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing and public health schools and programs at the UC Davis campus this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13.

The 11th national conference, “Passion for Life, Education, Service, and Your Future in Healthcare,” is planned, staffed, coordinated and funded by the UC Davis Pre-Health Student Alliance, a partnership among pre-medical and pre-health student organizations, fraternities and sororities at UC Davis and other local colleges in the Sacramento area. Students from all over California and the nation will attend.

“We are excited to host this year’s conference at the UC Davis campus where student leaders made a tremendous effort to bring nationally renowned experts in health care and health-care policy to inspire and engage the next generation of leaders,” said Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor for student affairs and director of the Center for Transnational Health at UC Davis. “These participants are striving for excellence and I look forward to seeing the impact of this conference on the students and their communities.”

The event features more than 200 workshops and panel discussions covering topics such as preparing for standard graduate school entrance examinations; primary care and nursing; financing medical and health-care education; and options for combined programs for doctoral and medical degree studies.

Speakers include: Dr. Arthur Chen, Time magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year and a  graduate of both the UC Davis undergraduate and medical school programs; Dr. Ernie Bodai, co-founder of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, also an alumnus of the UC Davis School of Medicine; Dr. Isaac Yang, neurosurgeon at UCLA Medical Center; Dr. Jeffrey Cain, board chair and former president, American Academy of Family Physicians; and many others from medical and health professions including dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and public health.

Keynote talks will be given by: Lucinda L. Maine, executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy; Carol A. Robinson, chief nursing officer, UC Davis Health System; Loel Solomon, vice president for community health, Kaiser Permanente; and Richard W. Valachovic, president and CEO, American Dental Education Association.

Discussion panels will include deans and directors of admissions from more than 70 of the nation’s top medical schools including UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Johns Hopkins. School deans will discuss their respective institutions, including admission requirements and qualities desired in prospective students. They will also take part in a moderated question-and-answer session.

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Students get boost for medical school plans

UC Merced, Georgia Regents University partner on undergrad physician training program.

UC Merced senior Julio Flores spent part of the summer conducting research at Georgia Regents University as part of the Undergraduate Physician Scientist and Research Training (UPSTaRT) program.

UC Merced senior Julio Flores spent part of the summer conducting research at Georgia Regents University as part of the Undergraduate Physician Scientist and Research Training (UPSTaRT) program.

First, UC Merced senior Julio Flores wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. Then, neurobiology called his name.

Now, after research experience in diabetes, he thinks that’s the field for him. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Flores just wants to help people.

“If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” he said.

Flores is one of four UC Merced students who spent this past summer interning at Georgia Regents University (GRU) as part of the Undergraduate Physician Scientist and Research Training (UPSTaRT) program. This opportunity to gain real-world skills was just one of many available to UC Merced’s talented undergraduates.

The joint program was funded for one year by both campuses to provide evidence of its value for a grant application to the National Institutes of Health, UC Merced professor Rudy Ortiz said. The grant wasn’t funded, though Ortiz is looking for external funding to keep UPSTaRT going.

The program provided UC Merced undergrads with an opportunity to conduct biomedical research at GRU during the summer and aims to increase the number of underrepresented and minority students who want to become physician-scientists.

After a weeklong bootcamp at UC Merced, the four students — Flores, Carly Stilphen, Beverly Li and Steven Duval Ruilova — headed to Georgia for research and workshops, and opportunities to develop their presenting skills and work in a hospital.

The students also interviewed with admissions officers for the medical school. Those sessions will serve as their interviews if they end up applying to GRU.

The program was a collaboration between Ortiz and Jennifer Pollock, professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the GRU M.D./Ph.D. program.

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