• Fellow Highlights


2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Lawrence Wang is an MD student at University of California, San Diego. 

Lawrence Wang was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in the multicultural San Francisco Bay Area. For high school, he attended Bellarmine College Preparatory, where he received a rigorous education instilled with Jesuit moral values that kindled his desire to serve those less fortunate than himself.

During his time at Haverford College, fascinated by the biology of microbes and their potential for unparalleled harm, Lawrence wrote his senior research thesis on a protein toxin produced by diarrheagenic Escherichia coli to inhibit other competing bacteria. Lawrence graduated from Haverford with a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry and biochemistry. Before starting medical school at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lawrence undertook a two-year postbaccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) researching immunity against HIV/AIDS. 

Lawrence went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical sciences from the University of Oxford and the NIH for his research on antimalarial monoclonal antibodies in the labs of Simon Draper and Robert Seder, respectively. The highlight of Lawrence’s graduate school experience was his discovery of a monoclonal antibody that potently prevents malaria, which completed Phase I testing at the NIH and is undergoing further clinical trials in Africa.

We caught up with Lawrence about what’s next and what the Fellowship has meant to him: 

Where are you with your graduate program now? Whether you’re still in school or you’ve graduated, what’s the next step for you or what are the steps you’ve taken after graduating?

I recently graduated in June 2024 from UCSD School of Medicine with my MD, the final two years of which were supported by the PD Soros Fellowship. I had previously received my DPhil from the University of Oxford in May 2022. My next step is to complete internal medicine residency at Weill Cornell medicine in New York City starting later in June 2024. I was also accepted into their infectious diseases fellowship as part of their medical research track for training physician-scientists.

Can you tell us more about your graduate studies? What questions were you pursuing? What was the main focus of your studies?

My DPhil was focused on developing monoclonal antibodies and vaccines against Plasmodium falciparum liver- and blood-stage parasites. My research led to several conference presentations, publications, patents, and was the impetus for a clinical trial that has completed phase II and is being prepared for phase III. My MD was completed with a focus on internal medicine and a plan to enter infectious diseases fellowship upon completion of residency.

Photograph of a man in his 30s at graduation, he is being hooded and receiving his diploma.
Being hooded by one of my long-time mentors
Group of many people standing around the man who just graduated, still wearing his robes.
My family celebrating this big milestone in my life

There are so many paths beyond college; Why did you feel graduate school was the best next step for you personally and/or professionally? Was it hard to take the risk of going to school or something you always knew you wanted to do? What has it helped you figure out or accomplish?

I decided to pursue a DPhil in addition to my MD because I had a strong desire to help develop new preventative therapeutics for malaria. I was very lucky to actually have this chance during graduate school and see something I discovered be translated into the clinic. It was definitely hard to take the risk of pausing medical school and start graduate school with no guarantee that anything I did worked. Fortunately, my risk paid off in spades and I am very glad I took the risk. I also would not have applied for a PD Soros Fellowship if I didn’t do graduate school, so indirectly my choice to pursue graduate school not only enabled me to apply for this Fellowship but also allowed me to garner the high achievements required to be awarded such a prestigious award.

Over the past two years, what personal or professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of transitioning back to my clinical training in medical school despite being out of practice in medicine for over four years. It was probably the most difficult transition of my life, but I worked as hard as I have ever worked in my life and was able to catch up to all my regular MD classmates and by the beginning of my fourth year of medical school, I was receiving feedback that I was above average for my level and that I would be an excellent intern during residency.

How do you describe The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program to others?

While the practical cornerstone of the PD Soros Fellowship is the financial support to pursue graduate school, it also represents an amazing opportunity to meet some truly inspiring and accomplished people. The PD Soros community really treats you like a part of a professional family, from fellows in your own class to the staff to the PDSFA to other fellows in other years. It is an amazing opportunity to learn about different immigrant cultures, be inspired by your peers pursuing diverse fields who will one day be future young leaders, and build your own network in your particular field.

Why did you apply to The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans? What ended up being the most important part of the Fellowship?

My main motivations for applying for the PD Soros Fellowship were the prestige and network it would bring me. For me, the most important part of the Fellowship are the people I have met and friendships I have fostered. I look forward to continuing to develop my existing connections with PD Soros fellows and forming new friendships with more fellows as the years go by.

Do you have any favorite memories from the past two years as a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow?

My favorite memories were of course from the two Fall Conferences. My favorite memory from the 2022 fall conference was visiting the Noguchi museum. I had a lot of fun socializing with fellows from all three classes (2020-2022) and I also thought the museum was really cool. It was also really special to have our own dedicated tour guides who knew so much about art and the museum itself. My favorite memory from the 2023 Fall Conference was getting to meet and hear Dr. Vivek Murthy speak. He is a very inspiring figure and it was amazing to get to see his techniques for public speaking and how warm of a presence he has, both personally and in front of a crowd.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans?

I think many people would agree that the hardest part of most high-pressure applications is the personal statement. My advice for writing a great personal statement for the PD Soros Fellowship is to start by reflecting on you or your parent’s immigrant stories by yourself, then talking to your parents and grandparents and others in your family. Think deeply about how those who came before you laid the groundwork for you to become who you are, and weave your own accomplishments into the story of your family.

Who has inspired you from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community? This could be an alum you know personally (or not), or someone in your class.

As a physician, I am of course naturally inspired by Dr. Vivek Murthy who is one of the most well-known Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows. I am also very inspired by the many people in my class who have overcome truly daunting obstacles to get to where they are today. I think one of the most powerful experiences for me was at my first Fall Conference in 2022, when my class sat in a circle and shared deeply personal experiences and tragedies that have affected them. It made me really respect the other PD Soros Fellows and put my own life into perspective in terms of the many things for which I should be grateful.

You’re now finishing up your second year of the Fellowship program. Has the Fellowship been what you expected?

Yes and more. I was hoping to meet some inspiring people and form some wonderful friendships, which have both happened more than I hoped for. ∎

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