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A Conversation with Dr. Leana Wen: Celebrating 20 Years of Beckman Scholars

Then: 1998 Beckman Scholars Program Award Recipient, California State University, Los Angeles

Now: Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore

AMBF: Prior to college, were you curious about a career in science?

LW: I wanted to enter medicine, but did not know about a career in science.

AMBF: What exposure did you have to knowing what research in a laboratory would be like?

LW: Very little.

AMBF: When you heard about the Beckman Scholar opportunity, what inspired you to apply?

LW: My mentors encouraged me to apply. I appreciated the opportunity to become more immersed in research and to be part of a cohort engaged in the same thing.

AMBF: What was your research focused on? What were the results?

LW: It was on exploring oxygen binding capacity of hemoglobin.

AMBF: What was the most memorable part about working with your mentor or working in the laboratory?

LW: My mentors have remained key career guides and sources of support.

AMBF: How did the experience change your thinking about science and conducting research?

LW: It's made research and scientific inquiry a lasting part of my career and life.

AMBF: Where did you go after graduation and where are you now?

LW: I entered medical school at Washington University, completed residency training, worked in public health, and am now the Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore.

AMBF: Did you continue doing scientific research?

LW: Yes, in public health.

AMBF: What effect did the Beckman Scholar experience have on your career?

LW: It encouraged me to continue pursuing a career with science and intellectual inquiry.

AMBF: Do you have any advice for undergraduates considering a research career?

LW: Find a mentor early on. Read everything you can. Dive into research and try it out.

AMBF: Did you meet Dr. Beckman in person, and if so, what was most memorable about meeting him?

LW: Yes. I remember his humility and his dedication to education.

AMBF: Any final thoughts?

LW: I will always be grateful for this opportunity.

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