Ryan Dz-Wei Chow was born in San Jose, California to artist Chun-Min Su and software engineer Jyh-Herng Chow, Taiwanese immigrants who came to the United States in pursuit of educational opportunities. Immersed in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Ryan grew up in an environment that celebrated innovation and exploration of the unknown, a mindset that has guided him throughout his career.
Having faced a variety of injuries as a nationally ranked junior tennis player, Ryan developed an early interest in regenerative medicine. In high school, Ryan spent an eye-opening summer in the laboratory of Irving Weissman at Stanford University. He grew fascinated by the orchestrated processes that underlie tissue repair, and how the dysregulation of these normal regenerative mechanisms can lead to cancer.
At Harvard College, Ryan majored in developmental and regenerative biology, with a minor in music. In the laboratory of Jayaraj Rajagopal, a pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Ryan investigated the mechanisms by which lung cancers can shapeshift into different subtypes and become resistant to therapies. His work garnered the Thomas Hoopes Thesis Prize and the Captain Jonathan Fay Prize, awarded to the most outstanding and imaginative senior thesis among the graduating class.
After graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Ryan entered the MD/PhD program at Yale University and subsequently joined the laboratory of Sidi Chen. Ryan’s doctoral work focuses on engineering the immune system to eliminate cancers. His scientific contributions to date include the discovery of mutations that sensitize tumors to immunotherapy, the invention of a therapeutic modality that overrides the immuno-evasive camouflage used by tumors, and the identification of genes that restrain the ability of immune cells to destroy tumors.
Following his graduate studies, Ryan plans to continue his training to become a physician-scientist specializing in medical oncology.