Gillings Student Larry Han Named 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholar

February 17, 2016

Larry Han

Fourth-year University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill undergraduate Larry Han is among the 35 Americans awarded scholarships in 2016 to pursue full-time graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England.

Han, who studies biostatistics at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is one of two UNC scholars chosen for the honor. The other recipient is Matt Leming, a graduate student. The awards were announced by UNC’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

The two were selected from a pool of 826 applicants in the United States competition for the scholarship, which was established in 2000 and is funded by a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Cambridge Scholarship enables academically outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom – who have demonstrated a strong interest in social leadership and responsibility – to pursue graduate studies at the storied university.

“Larry and Matt are those rare students who quietly and without fanfare change the landscape of their professions,” says UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “They have already accomplished so much in their young careers in academia and are outstanding representatives for our campus and their community. But their skills extend far beyond their fields. They are also humanitarians whose strengths lie in their ability to connect on a human level. I am excited to see what they do with their bright futures.”

Han, 21, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is the son of Bajin Han and Xiaomin Li. He is a 2012 graduate of Leesville Road High School and plans to graduate from UNC this May with a major in biostatistics from the Gillings School and a minor in chemistry from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Han formerly was a nationally ranked teenage golfer and honed his love of biostatistics while conducting golf analytics. Ultimately, he hopes to use statistics to help people improve their personal health trajectories. To that end, he already has made notable contributions to the treatment of HIV infection in China and to malaria vaccine research in Africa.

At Cambridge, Han intends to pivot his research toward understanding how healthcare services and interventions can be modified to improve patient outcomes. Specifically, he hopes to optimize regional hospital systems to reduce infection and mortality in acute-care settings, while improving the quality of patient-centered care.

“It just so happens that I was visiting Cambridge when I read the email with the wonderful news about Larry Han’s prestigious scholarship award,” says Michael Kosorok, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor and chair of biostatistics at the Gillings School. “We are thrilled with his success and look forward with interest to see him continue to develop professionally. Larry is destined to make a difference in the world.”

During his time at the British university, Han will pursue a master’s degree of philosophy in strategy, marketing and operations at The Judge Business School. He will begin his studies at Cambridge in 2017, after spending a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Han concludes his time at UNC with a long list of prestigious accolades. He is a Morehead-Cain Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa member and an Honors Carolina student. He currently is completing a senior honors thesis on malaria vaccine efficacy using survival analysis. While studying at the Gillings School, Han has been a recipient of Carolina’s Phillips Ambassador Scholarship and a 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship; he also has been named a member of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars.

Since the spring semester began, he has co-taught a course for undergraduates that he helped design, entitled, “The Re-emergence of Infectious Diseases: From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.” Han recently appeared in a video for the Gillings School, discussing his “unmatched” experience in the biostatistics department.

“Larry Han is a young person of extraordinary character, who has distinguished himself as a remarkably gifted academic and a transformative leader,” shares Jane Monaco, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Gillings School’s biostatistics department.

“His leadership characteristics are unique and extremely effective,” she elaborates. “His words and actions demonstrate a rare combination of humility, concern and honesty. Larry listens, he engenders trust, he engages people and then he makes change happen. He leaves a place better than when he arrived.”