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The Sontag Foundation grantee Clark Chen

University of Minnesota Medical School

What’s something that people may not know about you?

I emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan when I was 12 without understanding English. During the initial years, I often wished I had superpowers to defend myself against the onslaught of overwhelming odds posed by the language barrier and harassment from peers. I named myself Clark after learning Superman’s name was really Clark Kent.

Why did you pursue brain cancer research?

I became an oncologic neurosurgeon and a brain cancer researcher because I wanted to fight alongside my patients and help in the race toward an improbable dream of life after cancer. In my MD/PhD application to Harvard Medical School, written over 25 years ago, I described my career goal: to make scientific discoveries that will eventually reduce human suffering. Today, I remain deeply committed to my original career goal- to impact the survival and the quality of life of patients afflicted with malignant gliomas.

What does it mean to you to be a Sontag Distinguished Scientist?

It is inspiring to be in the company of Rick and Susan Sontag who transformed a difficult personal experience into an opportunity to serve humanity and lighten the heavy burden born by patients afflicted with brain cancer and their loved ones.