Students from the San Joaquin Valley Start Training at UCSF to Become Physicians for the Region

FRESNO – Increasing the number of physicians practicing in the San Joaquin Valley and diversifying the physician workforce are goals of the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME). Today, UCSF and UCSF Fresno announced the second cohort of students in the UCSF SJV PRIME. All 12 students recently admitted to the program call the San Joaquin Valley home. Fifty percent of the students come from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine and 42% are the first in their families to graduate from college.

New information from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) confirms that the U.S. continues to face a doctor shortage. The AAMC’s latest study, estimates a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. The San Joaquin Valley, which already has one of the lowest ratios of practicing physicians in California, will continue to be disproportionately affected. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for more physicians, physician leaders, and physician change makers in the region, especially those who come from the diverse communities they serve.

UCSF SJV PRIME is a tailored track for UCSF medical students who are committed to ensuring high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible medical care to improve health for populations, communities and individuals in the San Joaquin Valley. To train up-and-coming physicians for the region, SJV PRIME utilizes the unique expertise of UCSF, UC Merced and UCSF faculty at UCSF Fresno, as researchers, educators and leaders in the field of health and health care in the Valley.

The UCSF SJV PRIME Matriculating Class of 2020 includes:

Inderpreet “Inder” Bal

Born in Selma, California, and raised in the neighboring city of Kingsburg, Inderpreet is the daughter of two Sikh immigrant farmers. Living her whole life in the San Joaquin Valley, Inderpreet is familiar with the region’s current health care system as well as local health care disparities. Her passion to help advance health in the region is ignited by several personal experiences she encountered while caring for her terminally ill mother. The end of her mother’s life journey and Inderpreet’s vision to deliver the highest possible level of patient care is what motivates her to return to the San Joaquin Valley. Her goal is to help serve and advance health care in the highly underserved region she has always called her home. Inderpreet graduated from Fresno State.

Dariush Bazyani

Raised in Fresno, California, Dariush was exposed to medicine at a young age by his father, a pediatrician who has served the San Joaquin Valley for years. His interest in medicine grew as he began volunteering in a student-run free clinic during college. There, he was introduced to the health disparities that exist within vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. As a result, Dariush learned about the significant role that the social determinants of health played in the lives of the patients he met. His experiences in the free clinic have stimulated a passion and drive to mitigate adverse social determinants of health, especially those unique to the region. In the future, Dariush hopes to deliver equitable healthcare to the residents of his hometown and across the San Joaquin Valley. Dariush graduated from UC Irvine.

Seerut Bhullar

Seerut was raised in Clovis, California, and was introduced to medicine at a young age. She majored in economics at Boston University and came to appreciate how economics and health care intertwine. Returning to the San Joaquin Valley as an emergency department scribe, she saw firsthand how economic issues, such as the physician shortage, impeded patient care. Moreover, she saw how other social determinants of health, such as the language barriers faced by her Punjabi-speaking family and a significant number of patients in the emergency department, also prevented health care access. In the future, Seerut hopes to return to the Valley as a physician and to provide health education and resources to underserved populations.

Allison “Alli” Gomez

Alli Gomez was born in Turlock, California, and lived there until she began college at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her time at UC Santa Barbara, Alli participated in many volunteer activities, worked as a preschool teaching assistant, as a medical assistant at a pediatrician’s office, and studied the effects of climate change and tropical storms on coral reefs in Costa Rica. Alli graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2019 with a degree in Biological Sciences. Her main career goal is to return to Turlock as a physician in order to address the shortage of medical providers that is currently affecting the San Joaquin Valley. She is passionate about bringing health education and advocacy back to her hometown, and hopes to serve her community as a physician, educator, and community leader. Outside of school she enjoys yoga, crafting, reading, taking care of her many plants, and petting dogs and cats. She is excited to begin the journey of giving back to the Valley along with her SJV PRIME classmates.

Francisco Gomez-Alvarado

Fresno holds a special place in Francisco’s heart as it was where his family settled after immigrating from Mexico. Francisco studied biophysics for his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the perk of enjoying his mother’s fantastic cooking on a more regular basis, Francisco chose to attend UCSF and train in the Valley for the opportunity to develop a voice in places where he felt he didn’t have one growing up. During his training, Francisco hopes to learn how to conduct meaningfully impactful research, become a competent physician, and above all else, strive to be a good person that is constant to his roots.

Charis Hoppe

Charis grew up in Merced, California, where she spent most days swimming to beat the Central Valley heat. Her water affinity led her to UC Santa Barbara, where she studied Cell & Developmental Biology and competed on the swimming team. Originally working in public health research, Charis decided to pursue medicine after meeting physicians who inspired her to change routes. Through volunteering in free clinics and abroad in Ethiopia, she witnessed health disparities but also saw how excellent medicine can change not only people’s lives, but entire communities. Her inspirations for medicine include her Lola, an immigrant and nurse, her parents, a pastor and a high school teacher, as well as the many educators and coaches that raised her. In the SJV PRIME, she aims to become a physician who brings high-quality care to the very people who have shaped her into the person she is today.

Kiranjot “Kiran” Kaur

Kiranjot was born in India and grew up in Fresno, California. She initially became interested in medicine after a family member was diagnosed with epilepsy. During college, different clinical experiences and community engagement projects reaffirmed her interest in becoming a physician and she also developed a strong passion for working with underserved communities. As a part of the Diversity in Medicine program at UC Irvine, she learned about various health disparities faced by many minorities and underserved populations, such as those in Fresno. Kiranjot believes that adequate health care should be accessible to all people. In the SJV PRIME, she hopes to gain the knowledge to provide the best quality of care for the San Joaquin Valley and to be an advocate for health equity.

Rosa “Vanessa” Mora

Vanessa was born and raised in Fowler, California, a small farm town in the San Joaquin Valley. She is the daughter of two Mexican immigrants and the second in her family to pursue higher education. In 2015, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from UC Santa Barbara. After graduating, Vanessa has been involved in clinical work, community outreach, and mentorship of underrepresented minority students. Most recently, Vanessa worked as a clinical research coordinator assistant for UCSF at San Francisco General Hospital. In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking her dog Maverick, and visiting loved ones. Vanessa is passionate about working with the underserved and is looking forward to returning to the Valley to help address health inequities. She is thrilled to be in the SJV PRIME and is looking forward to giving back to her community.

Jacob Perez-Stringer

Jacob is a small, rural town boy from Reedley who was told he didn’t have the grades to become a nurse when enrolling at the local community college. He developed a passion for science in college and now he is a medical degree candidate at UCSF. He loves animals and tries to spend a lot of time outdoors being active. He enjoys interacting with people. He rarely takes himself seriously, and he plays sports whenever and wherever he can. Jacob graduated from Fresno State.

Kyle Shen 

Kyle was born in Merced, California, and attended UC Merced where he studied Molecular and Cell Biology. Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, he saw how the physician shortage affected his friends and family, which started his interest in medicine. In high school and college, he volunteered in the Intensive Care Unit at the local hospital where he directly saw how a lack of physicians affected the health care system, which led him to pursue medicine. In the future, he hopes to practice medicine in his hometown and help the underserved community in the Valley.

Christopher “Chris” Teran

Christopher is originally from the San Joaquin Valley town of Patterson, California. Inspired by the impact of the local doctors and the difference they made in the eyes of his family and community, he decided to pursue a career in medicine. Born into a Latin-American immigrant family, he became a first-generation college student when he enrolled at Yale University, majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. While at Yale, eager to learn more about the scientific side of medicine, he conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Christopher continued to explore biomedical research and was involved in a variety of projects at Stanford University ranging from lung development to treatments for cystic fibrosis. Having seen the barriers faced by members of his own community and family, Christopher also worked to increase accessibility to health care by serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at free clinics and emergency rooms. He is thrilled to begin his journey as an SJV PRIME medical student and hopes to use his career to serve as a doctor providing and improving health in Central Valley communities.

Samuel “Sam” Vydro

Samuel Vydro was born and raised in Fresno, California, to a family of Russian immigrants with his mother being an internist and father working as a psychiatrist. Throughout his childhood, he saw many medical providers in the San Joaquin Valley and was inspired by their service to the culturally diverse community that made his family feel welcome. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, exploring animal behavior both in California and abroad in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. In the future, he hopes to combine the research skills he has obtained thus far and the compassion that has been inspired by the physicians around him, to return to the Valley for his medical education and subsequent career, working to help overcome health care disparities. 

SJV PRIME BACKGROUND: The San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME) represents the sixth program in the University of California’s Programs in Medical Education. The program prepares medical students to be excellent clinicians and patient advocates for underserved communities, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. The training program is designed to prepare medical students to address the unique health needs of the region’s diverse and underserved populations.  It was established in 2010 as a partnership among the UC Davis School of Medicine, UC Merced, UCSF Fresno and the UCSF School of Medicine. The first class of students started in 2011.

Currently, there are 36 students in SJV PRIME, with the majority coming from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine and socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. With strong Valley connections, SJV PRIME students call the region home. Including the Class of 2020, SJV PRIME has graduated six cohorts for a total of 39 graduates who are currently conducting residency training.

In July 2018, the UCSF School of Medicine received approval from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education to establish UCSF Fresno as a branch medical campus to lead SJV PRIME. Six students were admitted to the new UCSF SJV PRIME and started in the fall of 2019. Including the recently admitted cohort of 12 students, there are now 18 students in the UCSF SJV PRIME. Students enrolled in the program spend 18 months at UCSF in San Francisco and then move to Fresno for the remainder of their medical school training. UC Merced continues to be an important partner in the program.

For more information about SJV PRIME, go to: