Graduate from the Summer Biomedical Internship Program Returns 17 Years Later to Fill Key Role at UCSF Fresno

FRESNO – In 1999, Robin L. Whitney, PhD, RN, participated in a program, sparking an interest in public health that would guide her educational and career goals. The program was the UCSF Fresno Summer Biomedical Research Internship Program (SBI). As an Edison High School student, she worked under UCSF faculty member Paul Mills, PhD, to investigate the incidence of cancer in children exposed to pesticides.

Seventeen years later, Dr. Whitney, who is a cancer survivor herself, was named Director of Research for the Hillblom Center on Aging at UCSF Fresno. Today, she is overseeing research related to the care of older adults in the San Joaquin Valley with the goal of improving access for local patients to cutting‐edge clinical studies. She also will evaluate outcomes of new, collaborative models of care for older patients in the region.

“The SBI provided me with the first notion that where and how you live can impact health in a way that we, sometimes, have no control over,” said Whitney. “The experience sparked my interest in public health, which is why I ultimately became a nurse – to be on the front lines of health and caring for the community.”

After high school, Whitney earned bachelor’s degrees in English and German, graduating magna cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. She then earned a bachelor’s of science in nursing, graduating magna cum laude again, this time, from the University of Southern Maine in South Portland, Maine. She went on to earn a PhD in nursing from UC Davis, despite being diagnosed with cancer and receiving treatment at Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in the midst of her graduate studies. In remission for two years now, she looks forward to the work ahead of her at UCSF Fresno.

Dr. Whitney is just one of the SBI success stories. Since it was established in 1988, more than 200 high‐achieving students have graduated from the Summer Biomedical Research UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program 155 N. Fresno Street Fresno, CA 93701 (559) 499-6400 Internship Program. Many of the SBI graduates are now health professionals or working in health‐related and research fields.

UCSF Fresno is accepting applications now for its 29th Summer Biomedical Research Internship Program, which provides central San Joaquin Valley high school students with an opportunity to gain first‐hand experiences with careers in medicine and valuable research skills. Students in their junior year of high school who live in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare counties are eligible to apply.

Selected students will work with faculty members at UCSF Fresno from June through August 2017 on a variety of research projects in the Fresno area. Last year, 11 students were assigned to research projects involving cancer, gender bias in medical education, genetic medicine, inflammatory bowel disease, pulmonary hypertension and surgery. The students conducted research at Fresno State, Community Regional Medical Center and the UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research.

In addition to conducting research, students in the program visit the University of California, San Francisco campus as well as observe a surgical procedure at CRMC.

Students are selected based on academic merit, questionnaire responses, interviews and letters of recommendation from their teachers. Ninety‐two students applied to the program in 2016.

The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, by 5 p.m. For more information, please visit or email [email protected] or call (559) 499‐ 6423.

UCSF Fresno SBI is funded by private donations.