P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Cynthia He, 2013

MD/PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Cynthia He is an immigrant from China

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MD/PhD in Medicine and Neuroscience at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Cynthia He was born in Shanghai, China. Her parents and grandparents had been sent to rural farms for re-education during the Cultural Revolution. She and her parents moved to California soon after she was born. 

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Cynthia worked in the neonatology lab of David Stevenson, studying potential therapies for neonatal jaundice. She graduated in 2010 in Biological Sciences with honors in Neurobiology. Cynthia has been a pianist since a young age and also completed a minor in Music during college. She then completed her M.D. and Ph.D in Neuroscience in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. For her dissertation research in the laboratory of Carlos Portera-Cailliau, Cynthia studied how cortical networks and sensory processing mechanisms develop aberrantly in Fragile X Syndrome (the most common inherited form of autism). As a medical student, Cynthia served in multiple leadership roles on the Medical Student Council and Medical Education Committee.

After graduating from medical school in 2019, Cynthia completed her residency training in Psychiatry at UCSF in 2023, and she obtained specialized training in women’s mental health and psychodynamic psychotherapy. She served as President of the Psychiatry Residents Association and Chief Resident at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She then pursued fellowship training in Forensic Psychiatry at UCSF. Since 2021, Cynthia has been active in the Northern California Psychiatric Society, where she is currently a Councilor and a member of the Professional Education, Ethics, and Asian-American Issues Committees. Her writing on the impact of culture and identity in psychiatric practice has been published in JAMADoximity, and Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Her recent scholarly work focuses on areas of ethical tension and evolving standards in psychiatric care.

  • PhD Neuroscience | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2017
  • BS Biological Sciences | Stanford University 2010
  • MD Medicine | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Gold Humanism Honor Society, 2018, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • National Research Service Award (NRSA F30), 2015, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, 2010, Stanford University
  • Blew-Culley-LaFollette Prize for Piano Performance, 2010, Stanford University
  • Student Research Award, 2009, Society for Pediatric Research
  • Presidential Scholar, 2006, U.S. Department of Education
  • Laughlin Fellow, 2024, American College of Psychiatrists
  • Edwin F. Alston Award for Leadership in Psychiatry, 2023, UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Select Publications
  • He CX, Cantu DA, Mantri SA, Zeiger WA, Goel A, Portera-Cailliau C. “Tactile Defensiveness and Impaired Adaptation of Neuronal Activity in the Fmr1 Knock-Out Mouse Model of Autism.” Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 July 5;37(27):6475-87. PMCID: PMC5511879.
  • Ricard C, Arroyo ED, He CX, Portera-Cailliau C, Lepousez G, Canepari M, Fiole D. “Two-photon probes for in vivo multicolor microscopy of the structure, connectivity and signals of brain cells.” Brain Structure and Function. 2018 May 11 Epub. PMID: 29748872.
  • He CX*, Arroyo ED*, Cantu DA, Goel A, Portera-Cailliau C. “A versatile method for viral transfection of calcium indicators in the neonatal mouse brain.” Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2018 Jul 23 Epub. PMCID: PMC6064716.
  • He CX, Portera-Cailliau C. The trouble with spines in Fragile X Syndrome: density, maturity, and plasticity. Neuroscience, 2013 Oct 22;251:120-8. PMCID: PMC3422423.
  • He CX, Campbell CM, Zhao H, Kalish FS, Schulz S, Vreman HJ, Wong RJ, Stevenson DK. Effects of zinc deuteroporphyrin bis glycol on newborn mice after heme loading. Pediatric Research, 2011 Nov;70(5):467-482. PMCID: PMC3189293.
  • He CX. “Defense Against Numbness.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 2021 325(20):2047-2048.
  • He CX. “Seeking Equanimity Amid ‘Pager Anxiety.’” Doximity Op-Med. 2021 Mar 16.
  • He CX. “The Masked Asian Psychiatrist.” Pulse—voices from the heart of medicine. 2020 July 14.
  • Cohen J*, He CX*, Leo H*, Sundaram S*, Wallace P*. “Mental illness, homelessness, and COVID-19: a call for action.” Op-Ed, San Francisco Chronicle. 2020 April 23.
  • He CX. “A Racial Enactment Amid COVID-Focused Anxiety and Mania.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues. 2020 30(5):634-5.
  • He CX. “The challenge of ‘holding space’ while holding the pager.” Current Psychiatry. 2021 July;20(7):31-e2.
  • He CX. “Defense Against Numbness.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 2021 325(20):2047-2048. PMID 34032826.
  • He CX and Saunders, R. “The crypto-apartheid of race, class, and safety arbitration on the inpatient psychiatric unit.” Psychiatric Services. 2022 Nov 73(11):1304-7. PMID: 35440160.
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