UCSF Fresno Gives Students Hands-On Biomedical Research Experience

FRESNO – While most students prefer to spend the summer pursuing nonacademic interests, nine high school students are working with faculty physicians at UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program to research health issues and examine data. The students are taking part in the 30th UCSF Fresno Summer Biomedical (SBI) Internship Program, which pairs selected students, who are going into their senior year of high school, with faculty members to work on research projects for two months over the summer.

The students will present their research findings Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at the UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research, 155 N. Fresno Street, in Fresno.

Faculty-student research projects involve: cancer incidence in the Central Valley’s geriatric population; cardiovascular risk factors in the rural Japanese American population; how implementation of a “hip fracture protocol” impacts patient outcomes; whether welcoming and nurturing clinical settings improve patient comfort levels and outcomes; HIV/AIDS in the Hmong population; role of Vitamin B12 in energy levels; and a comparison of outcomes between surgical treatments for arthritis of the thumb.

Students selected to participate in the SBI include:

  • Ivanna Cortez from Orosi High School
  • Marianita Garcia from Washington Union High School
  • Komal Hombal from Buchanan High School
  • Brian Ko from Central High School
  • Harnoor Mann from Clovis North High School
  • Sagar Pyreddy from Clovis North High School
  • Yailin Romo from Clovis East High School
  • Jayasuriya Senthilvelan from Buchanan High School
  • Katherine Shin from Clovis North High School

“I know I would like to be in the health field and help people,” said Cortez. “I’ve considered doing research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, being a doctor or maybe a surgeon. My goal is to help people in any way I can, whatever I end up doing.”

“I hope to be a pediatrician,” said Shin. “UCSF is a well-known medical institution and I can gain valuable insight into what medicine is truly like through this program.”

Robin Whitney, PhD, RN, director of research for the Hillblom Center on Aging at UCSF Fresno, who oversees the SBI Program said, “This is a unique opportunity for hard-working students to gain an understanding of the biomedical sciences through hands-on experiences.

“Our hope is that by introducing them to careers in health and the health sciences, the students will be inspired to pursue related careers that enable them to put their education and talents to work to help improve health in the Valley.”

Dr. Whitney is proof that the SBI program works. Whitney participated in the SBI Program as an Edison High School student in 1999. Whitney’s research at that time focused on the incidence of cancer in children exposed to pesticides.  A cancer survivor herself, Whitney now oversees research related to the care of older adults in the Valley.

Students from Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties are eligible to apply to the SBI. Students are selected based on academic merit, questionnaire responses, interviews, and letters of recommendation from their teachers.

For more information, please visit https://www.fresno.ucsf.edu/sbi/ or email [email protected]   or call (559) 499-6423.