Spotlight on Education: Touro University serves, leads, teaches in dynamic learning environment

Located in Vallejo on Mare Island, Touro University California is a Jewish-sponsored institution that offers graduate degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant studies, public health and education. The mission of Touro University California is to educate caring professionals to serve, to lead and to teach. Students from diverse backgrounds are recruited nationally to create a dynamic, robust learning environment. Touro University California is also active within its home community and supports internationally recognized research. For more information, visit

Touro in the community

At the heart of Touro is a dedication to the Judaic values of social justice, intellectual pursuit and service to humanity. Touro’s interaction and engagement with the surrounding community fulfill many of those goals and the legacy continues to expand in scope, quality and numbers of people served.

One example is a partnership with Solano County that enters its second year in 2013. The partnership helps guarantee wider access to health care for all county residents by placing Touro medical staff and students into county clinics. For Touro University California’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Pharmacy, this creates more rotation opportunities for students entering the clinical phase of their education, providing valuable opportunities to gain real-life professional experience. Equally as important, students have an opportunity to live the Touro University California mission of service to others.

All of this is in addition to Touro’s existing Student Run Free Clinic in Vallejo, where students and faculty operate a health clinic for uninsured and economically disadvantaged people. Throughout the year, students and faculty also organize health fairs in the community.

“Excellence in teaching professional skills gives our students an advantage for transforming talent into potential. By creating opportunities for serving the community, we build passion that drives their potential,” said Dr. Marilyn Hopkins, Touro University California’s Provost and Chief Operating Officer.

Touro in the news

Research by a Touro University California professor has shed new light on high sugar intake as a serious danger to health, resulting in national and international news media attention throughout 2011.

Dr. Jean-Marc Schwarz focused on high-fructose corn syrup, that ubiquitous sweetener in many sodas and juices. His work underlines how beverage makers’ dependence on this cheap sweetener comes with a steep price to consumers’ health.

The research revealed that fructose acts as a powerful stimulant in converting sugar to fat, which in turn significantly increases fat in the liver. Fat in the liver can lead to cirrhosis, obesity and diseases such as diabetes. The alarming increase of the latter two conditions, especially among children, is driving a national debate on regulating sugary sodas.

Against that backdrop, the research by Dr. Schwarz at Touro brought the CBS news program “60 Minutes” to the campus and the BBC also interviewed Schwarz for a series that aired last June.

All the coverage zeroed in on how high-fructose corn syrup, used to replace cane sugar since the 1970s, acts much more like a toxin than a mere sweetener. At the same time, servings have grown into bucket-sized 36-ounce cups of soda, with multiple studies charting daily consumption among children and adults.

“It’s not comparable to mercury or lead, it’s the quantity that just makes it toxic,” Dr. Schwarz told the BBC.

Dr. Schwarz’s work has also been covered in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Touro’s hometown newspaper, the Vallejo Times Herald. Most recently, a Marie Claire magazine story in September pointed out the irony behind the danger of fructose. Concern over saturated fat’s role in heart disease during the 1980s led to the food industry’s cutting back on its use, but substituting sweeteners to compensate for the lack of taste.

“We’ve basically been felled by the very move we hoped would protect our hearts,” Dr. Schwarz told the magazine.

Work by Dr. Schwarz at Touro is among a number of research efforts at Touro University California, many of which are funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health. This includes ongoing biomedical research on drug development for HIV, cancer vaccine development, human metabolism, lipid disorders and atherosclerosis, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, neurological and chronic diseases, among many other projects.

For more information about research at Touro University California, visit