Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Medical Pioneers: Honoring Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have contributed extensively to the rich history of our country and their impact on the healthcare field as medical pioneers is remarkable.

As part of Connecticut Children’s diversity, equity and inclusion journey, and our celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we continue to recognize accomplishments in health care through our Medical Pioneers series. The series honors physicians, surgeons, nurses and scientists – both at Connecticut Children’s and elsewhere – for their groundbreaking achievements and discoveries.

The names listed below are some of the many pioneers who have had a profound impact on health care and American history.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Medical Pioneers at Connecticut Children’s:

  • Sonia Chaudhry, MD, FAAOS, is an orthopedic surgeon at Connecticut Children’s. Dr. Chaudhry is experienced in the care of musculoskeletal conditions, with subspecialty interests in congenital hand differences and upper extremity injuries. She has authored several chapters in upper extremity, pediatric orthopedic and orthopedic surgery textbooks. Learn more about Dr. Chaudhry here.
  • Shabnam Lainwala, MD, is the director of the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Program at Connecticut Children’s. Dr. Lainwala is also the founder and chair of the NICU nutritional care and research group at Connecticut Children’s. Learn more about Dr. Lainwala.
  • Ching Lau, MD, PhD, is the director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Dr. Lau’s clinical expertise and research includes brain tumors, osteosarcoma, precision oncology, and the genomics and genetics of cancer. Learn more about Dr. Lau here.
  • Shailendra Upadhyay, MD, CEPS, FHRS, is the division head of pediatric cardiology at Connecticut Children’s. Dr. Upadhyay is also the director of the Connecticut Adult Congenital Heart Service at Connecticut Children’s. Learn more about Dr. Upadhyay.
  • Alicia Wang, MD, is the director of Connecticut Children’s Fetal Cardiology program. Dr. Wang established the program, which works alongside several maternal fetal medicine groups in Connecticut to better prepare families to care for newborns with congenital heart disease and improve their outcomes. Learn more about Dr. Wang here.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Pioneers Throughout History:

  • Min Chueh Chang, PhD, was a Chinese American reproductive biologist. Dr. Chang helped develop the birth control pill. He was also a pioneer in developing in vitro fertilization, with his research leading to the birth of the first “test-tube baby.” Learn more about Dr. Chang.
  • Margaret Chung, MD, graduated from the University of Southern California Medical School in 1916, becoming the first American-born Chinese female doctor. Initially denied residencies and internships in hospitals, Dr. Chung went on to become an emergency surgeon in Los Angeles, which was extremely unusual for women at the time. In the early 1920s, she helped establish the first Western hospital in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Learn more about Dr. Chung.
  • David Ho, MD, is a Taiwanese American physician, researcher and virologist whose scientific contributions improved the understanding and treatment of HIV infection. Dr. Ho’s work included the development of foundational research for modern antiretroviral therapies. Learn more about Dr. Ho.
  • Anandi Gopal Joshi, MD, was one of the first Indian women practitioners of Western medicine. Dr. Joshi was the first Hindu and first Indian woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, graduating in 1886. Learn more about Dr. Joshi.
  • Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, is a Filipino American physician and pediatric immunologist who was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2013 for being part of a research team that orchestrated a breakthrough that “functionally cures” newborns of AIDS when transmitted from their mother during birth. Dr. Luzuriaga is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Vice Provost for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Director of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Learn more about Dr. Luzuriaga.

Read more articles in our Medical Pioneers series:

Medical Pioneers: Honoring Contributions of Women – ADVANCING KIDS

Medical Pioneers: Honoring Contributions of Black Americans – ADVANCING KIDS

As we serve children and families, we know that furthering our understanding of where we have come from by learning about medical pioneers will help us in creating a stronger future for Connecticut Children’s and the communities we serve.

We are excited honor and to learn from the accomplishments of the above-mentioned professionals. We are fortunate that they serve as role models and provide inspiration to team members, children and families. We are thankful that their scientific contributions and leadership have saved lives and continue to open doors for future generations.

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