Twenty-one students from high schools across Contra Costa, Napa and Solano counties in a Biotech Academy gained insight in medical areas like osteopathic medicine, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anatomy, diversity and inclusion in medicine, and nursing June 18-28 at Touro University of California in Vallejo.

Students got a chance to use an ultrasound imaging device during a lab exercise by the university's Imaging Club and a first-hand look at how the institution conducts outreach by providing free diabetes screenings to community members through its Mobile Diabetes Education Center.

Working with the Alzheimer’s Association, Gerontology Society of America and others, associate professor Shin Murakami, Ph.D., organized the program, which exposes students to aspects of health and medical education that are not found in traditional high school classes.

“With the help of some of my colleagues, we began the Biotech Academy in 2012 when the city of Vallejo requested greater resources to help the community,” said Murakami. "The program gives students access to the facilities that you can only get at a graduate level institution so that they can go on to start careers in medicine, public health, or other STEM subjects."

Since starting in 2012, more than 100 students have gone through the Biotech Academy and this year over 150 students competed for just 20 spots, according to the university.

"About half of the students who go through the Biotech Academy go on to Universities of California and half continue to California State Universities," Murakami said.