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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Yakir Reshef, 2015

MD/PhD, Harvard University and MIT

Yakir Reshef is the child of immigrants from Romania and Israel

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MD/PhD in Computer Science at Harvard University and MIT


Born in Israel to a Romanian father and an Iraqi mother, Yakir spent his early life in Israel. After four years in Kenya, during which time his parents pursued medical and public health work, his family moved to Maryland.

As the child of an epidemiologist and an ophthalmologist, Yakir grew up in an atmosphere suffused with medicine. However, during high school and college he also discovered a love for mathematics and computer science. As a math major at Harvard College, Yakir helped develop a statistical method, subsequently published in Science, for detecting new relationships in large data sets. This experience pushed him to explore avenues through which his computational skills could advance biomedical research.

After graduating, Yakir spent three years in his native Israel, first as a software engineer and later as a Fulbright scholar in the department of mathematics and computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science. After realizing that he would need broad, deep training in both biology and computation in order to achieve his goals, he decided to enroll in an MD/PhD program.

Yakir is now pursing an MD, in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology medical program, and a PhD in computer science at Harvard University. By marrying computational expertise with medical knowledge, he hopes to help translate improved data analysis methods into better outcomes for patients.