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Lawrence Wang

University of California, San Diego

As part of his graduate research, Lawrence Wang had the task of sorting through a host of antibodies, and selecting the one that could offer the strongest defense against malaria. Or, as he put it, “Basically, it was my job to find the Michael Jordan of antibodies.”

The antibody that Wang isolated, called L9, is now in Phase 2 clinical trials in Mali and Kenya to test whether it can prevent malaria infection. It’s given him a taste for how rewarding it can be to watch as basic research leads to a potential new product that could save lives.

Wang became interested in becoming a doctor and an infectious disease specialist in particular after reading Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains” about Paul Farmer while he was in college. Since then, he’s received his doctorate through a joint program at Oxford, Cambridge, and the National Institutes of Health (the latter of which he referred to as “Candy Land for biomedical research”) and is now in medical school at UCSD. He came into his graduate programs knowing he wanted to study vaccines.

“I guess I can say I wanted to work on them before it got all fashionable with Covid,” Wang joked.

Wang intends to stay connected to both research and clinical care going forward as well. He’s particularly interested in running clinical trials, and hopes that, with his background and knowledge, he’ll be able to help steer more drugs through the gauntlet of clinical development.

— Andrew Joseph