Touro University wants to find cure for diabetes

Vallejo Times Herald
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen | January 20, 2016

Chances are that solutions to chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes could one day be found in Vallejo — at Touro University California's new Translational Research and Student Health Clinic — which was officially dedicated on Wednesday.

The grand opening of Building 89, once a prosthetic limb clinic known for its "miracles," will now, hopefully, start turning out miracles of a different sort.

"Back then, they turned people who couldn't walk into ones who could," Osteopathic medicine school Dean Michael Clearfield said. "The collaborative team at the Translational center will do research that will help people in our community and beyond."

Clearfield and other speakers said Touro's motivation for the multi-million dollar investment goes back to the Jewish tradition of education and helping others.

"Our founder, Bernard Lander, said '(we do this) because people are suffering and we can help,'" Clearfield said.

In this building, Touro president Alan Kadish said, work will be done through which Touro officials hope to help make the world a better place.

More than 100 people, including several local and regional dignitaries or their representatives attended the ceremony and ribbon cutting, officially opening the facility where some of the top scientists in the field will conduct research on the effects of sugar on metabolism, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular issues and reversing them. Part of the building will also function as a student health clinic, officials said.

"Touro University California's new research and student health clinics are an important addition to the rich history of Mare Island. It demonstrates our commitment to innovation and builds on the more than 17 years we have been part of this community," Marilyn Hopkins, Touro California's provost and chief operating officer said. "This is more than just a building; it is a major accomplishment in Touro's history, and a realization of our values, based on research, passion and perseverance."

The 6,200 square-foot building that spent several years in limbo, wrapped in plastic, awaiting the right time and purpose, was built by the Navy in 1945, school officials said.

Research and clinical trials, teaching and helping students will go on in the building, where top medical researchers like Jeann-Marc Schwarz and Jay Shubrook will seek solutions for some of the most persistent chronic health issues plaguing too many people in Vallejo and worldwide, officials said.

"This is a remarkable day for Touro University California as we open another campus facility to benefit our students, faculty and the community," Touro's Western Division CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkeley said. "Research is such an important part of Touro's mission and having this new facility will provide our students and faculty with enhanced opportunities to conduct research on topics of great importance to all of us in California while also enhancing the educational experience. This facility will also provide state-of-the-art health care for our students."

Having the research going on at the medical school provides the added benefit of being able to simultaneously incorporate pertinent results into the curriculum, Clearfield said.

"The resources offered through this new building reflect the core mission of our university by serving our students and society through innovative multidisciplinary approaches to education, research and community service," he said.

Some of the work will build on Schwarz's collaboration with UCSF researchers who last year reported "striking" results suggesting that just as sugar has an immediate negative impact on the body, its removal can almost as immediately reverse this, Schwarz and Shubrook said.

Wednesday's ceremony also dedicated a DEXA machine donated by Nevada-based Steinberg Diagnostics technology which will allow metabolic researchers to measure body data in a non-invasive way, officials said.

The building's Student Health Center portion will allow for improved health services, including counseling, officials said.

"It is nothing short of extraordinary and life-changing," Berkeley said. "This research on obesity, metabolism and diabetes will put this university on the map."