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Volunteer and Intern Program

Volunteer & Intern program

▶ Phi Delta Epsilon Blood Drive, by Rosheen Birdie
▶ My Incredible Journey To Raise Awareness, by Andrew Shieh
▶ "Reach Out and Engage", by Wendi Gu
▶ 2013 Volunteers: Maggie and Clara!
▶ "Project Thal", by Maggie Leinen

▶ A Lesson Remembered: Reflections of a Volunteer, by Zoe Oppenheim
▶ Love and Blood: Uncovering Thalassemia, by Rilee Hakola and Denise Corriveau
▶ Thalassemia Awareness: A Rewarding Volunteer Experience, by Sushrita Neogi

▶ Contact us
▶ How you can help

The thalassemia outreach program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland offers dynamic volunteer and internship opportunities with experiences ranging from work with the children and families we serve to educating and raising awareness in the community at large. Our goal is to increase thalassemia awareness in our local community, across the country, and around the world.

UC Berkeley Collaboration

The University of California Berkeley and the Children's Hospital Thalassemia Center established a joint volunteer/internship and outreach program in 1996. The UC Berkeley Center for Research and Social Change under the leadership of Dr. Troy Duster and his faculty joined with the Thalassemia Center to create an internship program to develop an outreach educational program for the growing population in California at risk for thalassemia. The success of this program laid the foundation for much of the outreach programs in California. The students developed academic and clinical skills including writing publications*, and public health and public policy training. There were many outstanding interns and collaborators in the initial program, including Joanna Choy, Bob Yamashita, Toutu Vongphrachanh, Eve Alley, Gabriel Wong, and Eileen Murray.

Over the years there have been several outreach efforts with UC Berkeley students and faculty which developed high school and college educational programs. In recent years (2012-2016), the program was coordinated by Laurice Levine. In 2012, she and intern Sushrita Neogi recruited 4 students and one recent graduate and began the UCB Thalassemia Outreach Internship Program. In its fourth and final year, the program comprised 11 (6 of whom were returning; 5 of whom were new) extremely talented, diligent, and innovative interns for the 2015-2016 academia year. Laurice and her team took on various special projects that included conducting outreach at health fairs and blood drives, designing new literature, translating outreach posters, and collaborating with various foundations such as the Blood Centers of the Pacific and the Alta Bates Asian Outreach group. The intern team worked together with Laurice on group projects, such as the 5K Bat Walk in October, 2015 at UC Berkeley. Four of the interns taught a DeCal about thalassemia at UC Berkeley. A DeCal was a student-led undergraduate seminar; the interns created a syllabus, designed power point presentations and lesson plans, gathered lecture materials, and recruited guest speakers. Some of the interns in this phase of the program included:

Nigina Ali Mint Bhetraratana Jennifer Chang
Kenny Chen Tina Diep Christine Dinh
Wendi Gu Johnson Khor Caroline Levan
Jeff Nathan Sushrita Neogi Kiran Salman
Andrew Shieh Edwina Tran Pang Vang
Leslie Yeh Edith Yuan  

New Focus for 2016

We are presently re-designing the internship program. The program will be expanding its work with immigrant at-risk populations locally and worldwide. Bob Yamashita (now Associate Professor at California State University, San Marcos) will be joining the internship program, along with patient advocates and UC Berkeley graduates, Dr. Ash Lal (Director of the Thalassemia Clinical Program), and Wendy Murphy (thalassemia social worker). Jin Mei, a recent UC Berkeley grad, has initiated a collaboration with Asian Health Services. Other students and graduates will be developing linkages with other community organizations working with at-risk populations. We plan to develop partnerships with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the Association of Chinese American Physicians, and AAPCHO - a national association of community health organizations serving Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. We will link with other groups addressing health and advocacy issues in the community and expand our program to focus on at-risk ethnic groups such Chinese, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, East Indian, Pacific Islanders, Italian and Greek people.

Upcoming Events

We are having an educational program in India in November of this year, and a planned event in Sri Lanka with their thalassemia center. We are planning an exchange student program with thalassemia centers in Italy: likely sites are the University of Ferrara, or Asiana Ospedaliero-Universitaria San Luigi Gonzaga in Turin. The goal is for each student to understand global approaches to community education. We are working on obtaining small stipends for the new interns, and we will cover travel costs to attend meetings. In August, we will be having a meeting with UC Berkeley Center for Social Change to address a joint credited elective for students to do field work in thalassemia. We are planning at meeting in the Fall for new volunteers. We are also recruiting volunteers to work with the Thalassemia Adoption Clinic. This is a special program for families who are interested in adopting thalassemia patiens living in orphanages in China and throughout the world. The program has been extremely successful in helping thalassemia patients and their new families transition to health care in the United States. It has resulted in gratifying outcomes (story link).

Those who are interested in volunteering with the thalassemia program or doing an internship in thalassemia outreach may contact Dr. Vichinsky at (510) 428-3651.

For other volunteer opportunities at Children's Hospital Oakland, you may contact the volunteer department at (510) 428-3471.


*Outreach publications:

  1. Outreach strategies for Southeast Asian communities: experience, practice, and suggestions for approaching Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee communities to provide thalassemia education and trait testing. Choy J, Foote D, Bojanowski J, Yamashita R, Vichinsky E. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2000 Nov-Dec;22(6):588-92.
  2. Outreach strategies for Asian Pacific Island (API) communities. Choy J, Yamashita RC, Foote D, Heer N, Vichinsky EP. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Jun 30;850:514-5.
  3. Outreach strategies for Southeast Asian communities: experience, practice, and suggestions for approaching Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee communities to provide thalassemia education and trait testing. Choy J1, Foote D, Bojanowski J, Yamashita R, Vichinsky E. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2000 Nov-Dec;22(6):588-92.
  4. The social impact of migration on disease. Cooley's anemia, thalassemia, and new Asian immigrants. Heer N1, Choy J, Vichinsky EP. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Jun 30;850:509-11.

Updated 11/17/2016


Northern California Comprehensive Thalassemia Center
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland
747 52nd Street, Oakland CA 94609   •   Phone: (510) 428-3651   •   Fax: (510) 450-5647
© 2003-2012 Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland
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