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Lindsey Wang

Lindsey Wang

Lindsey Wang

2023 Davidson Fellow Laureate
$50,000 Scholarship

Age: 17
Hometown: Pepper Pike, OH

Science: “Risk, Disparity, and Outcomes of COVID-19 in the US: Real-Time Analysis of Nationwide Patient Electronic Health Records for Timely Public Health Response

About Lindsey

My name is Lindsey Wang, and I am from Pepper Pike, OH. I am extremely excited to start my journey at Case Western Reserve University this fall, and I hope to become a physician-scientist, working to improve the quality of life for people. I hope to explore my various interests in medicine and contribute to public service. Additionally, I plan to major in computer science with a minor in economics and statistics. 

Besides research, I was actively involved in my high school's tennis team and played the violin in the pit orchestra. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading while listening to music, and learning languages. I also boast a large collection of shiitake and oyster mushroom logs that I personally harvested from a forest, inoculated, sealed, and stored.

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"Being recognized as a Davidson Fellow Laureate is truly beyond words. It's an indescribable and humbling validation of all of my hard work and effort that has fueled my determination to continue to make a positive impact on society and leave a lasting legacy, and I am immensely grateful for the vast opportunities that this honor has opened for me. This is an accomplishment I share with my incredible family and mentors who have unconditionally supported me every step of the way."

Lindsey Wang

Project Description

To better understand how COVID-19 affected Americans, I analyzed a nationwide, real-time database of electronic health records of 100 million patients. I found that individuals with blood cancer, dementia, and substance use disorders were at an increased risk for COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated. Omicron was 6–8 times more infectious than Delta but less severe. Antivirals are highly effective, but COVID-19 rebounds occurred. COVID-19 could trigger new-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Vaccination mitigated racial and ethnic risk disparities of COVID-19 risk. By applying advanced analytical tools to analyze a large dataset, my research translated science and data into actionable policy.

Deeper Dive

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, public health policymakers and healthcare providers were faced with the challenge of making quick decisions and recommendations based on limited and evolving science. To gain a better understanding of how COVID-19 affects Americans, I analyzed a nationwide real-time database of electronic health records of over 100 million unique patients across all 50 states in the US, covering diverse geographic locations, age groups, racial and ethnic groups. The primary aim of my research was to generate timely real-world evidence to assist the public in making informed decisions during the rapidly-evolving pandemic.

My research focuses on six key questions concerning the pandemic: (1) Who is vulnerable? (2) Do vaccines differ in efficacy? (3) How does the Omicron variant differ from the previous variants, especially in children? (4) How effective are antiviral treatments in real-world populations? (5) What are the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the brain? (6) Can vaccination narrow the gap of the racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 risk observed during the early pandemic?

My discoveries include the following findings: (1) Fully vaccinated patients with blood cancers, substance use disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and other dementias were at increased risk for breakthrough infections; (2) The Moderna vaccine was more effective than Pfizer in preventing breakthrough infections, but vaccine immunity waned over time and breakthrough infections still occurred; (3) In children under 5, Omicron was 6–8 times more infectious than Delta but less severe; (4) COVID-19 rebound occurred after antiviral treatments, which is not unique to Paxlovid; (5) There is a two-fold elevation of risk in a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease following COVID-19 infection; (6) vaccination mitigates factors leading to racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 risk.

Of course, I encountered many challenges throughout my research journey. However, that is the inherent nature of research. Failure is inevitable; 99% of my results never made it to publication, and each of my published papers underwent dozens of rejections, resubmissions, and revisions.

Despite the hurdles, the pandemic had a significant impact on my project (in a positive way!), as my focus was on examining COVID-19. This experience taught me invaluable lessons about the importance of service, passion, dedication, and persistence in the face of adversity. This journey has been rewarding as I had the opportunity to ask intriguing questions, make scientific discoveries utilizing my analytical skills, and present my findings at conferences.

I believe that the significance of these studies extends well beyond the data at-hand and will establish an improved framework for public health monitoring in the future. My research applies advanced statistical and informatics methods to analyze real-time electronic health records, and my findings helped the public and vulnerable populations make informed decisions during the rapidly-evolving pandemic.

Here is an example: When I released our preprint on January 2, 2022 titled “Comparison of outcomes from COVID infection in pediatric and adult patients before and after the emergence of Omicron”, we received an email from an individual who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after a kidney transplant and was concerned about their level of risk and whether or not it was safe to return to work. I ran additional analyses and sent back detailed data within one day, concluding that Omicron was significantly milder than Delta in patients similar to them. My research underscores the importance of a science-based, data-driven approach to protecting public health. Our results are featured in thousands of news articles and reached tens of millions of Twitter users. Future works are necessary by working with public policymakers to adopt our approach as a cost-effective, real-time way for monitoring public health for inevitable future pandemics.


If you could magically become fluent in any language, what would it be?

100% Mandarin. I have been learning for the past few years reading books and memorizing vocabulary, so it would be nice for me to converse fluently with my family as well as watch videos without subtitles.

If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?

Steve Jobs (I had actually just missed his Stanford speech.)

Stephen Hawking (He sparked my interest in cosmology when I was younger.)

Robert Oppenheimer (I may be biased as I had recently watched his movie.)

Alan Turing (I have always been passionate about computer science.)

Andrew Ng (Artificial intelligence is the future of medicine, and that is what I plan to pursue.)

What is your favorite tradition or holiday?

Lunar New Year. I get to eat so much delicious food and snacks and celebrate alongside my family in China. The Spring Festival Gala is also always a delight to watch, and we always end up with enough leftovers to last for the next couple weeks.

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In The News

Cleveland – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2023 scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 17-year-old Lindsey Wang of Pepper Pike. Wang won a $50,000 scholarship for her project, Risk, Disparity, and Outcomes of COVID-19 in the US: Real-Time Analysis of Nationwide Patient Electronic Health Records for Timely Public Health Response. She is one of only two students nationwide to be recognized as a Davidson Fellows Laureate and one of only 21 scholarship winners in the 2023 Fellows class.

Download the full press release here