People in Profile: Torey Lau

Meet Torey—a pharmacist, photographer, and researcher of deadly superbugs.

Q: What is your area of research and why does it interest you?
I currently study immunological applications in infectious diseases. In particular, I look at Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) which is a disease affecting more than 300,000 hospital patients per year. About 25% of patients will relapse, and each subsequent episode becomes increasingly difficult to treat. It’s a major problem and an increasingly important research area. 

My research focuses on evaluating whether responses of T-cells specific to C. difficile toxins can predict whether a patient is at risk of relapsing. The goal is to eventually use this research to guide therapeutic decisions. I also study cell responses in patients with antibiotic allergies so that we can improve our diagnosis of specific antibiotic allergies and continue using lifesaving antibiotics. 
Q: You’re a pharmacist, researcher and full-time medical student –How do you manage your schedule?
I manage my schedule by prioritizing and keeping an organized calendar. School is demanding, but you can’t sacrifice everything else! Whether it’s work, life, love, or health, I make sure I keep everything in balance. In between exams, I spend as much time as I can with friends and family, knowing that I will likely be studying full-time when exams arrive. I commit to having at least 2 sports/exercise activities each week and at least one friends and family night, so that I can take care of myself and always be surrounded by my support network. I also work as a pharmacist once or twice a month so I can keep current on everything I’ve learned in my five years of training.
Q: What do you love about your work?
I love talking to patients the most! I choose my research projects carefully and ensure that they have some clinical component. I get a lot of satisfaction from explaining to my patients how their contribution can help other people in the future. Everyone has their story, and most are eager to have their story give hope to other patients. 
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a trainee/pharmacist?
I would likely work as a photographer. It’s my passion and I have always wanted to shoot professionally. I would probably be a photo journalist—I would travel the world, experience different cultures, and tell their stories through photography.
Q: What do you hope to be doing in 20 years?
I certainly hope to be a physician! I want to be a doctor who takes care of patients under my care as well as helps future patients through my research.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My parents have always told me to keep my friends close, and my family even closer. I hope to take that advice with me as medical school becomes increasingly demanding.
Q: If you won a free vacation anywhere in the world where would you go?
I would probably finish my tour of Europe. I toured many of the Southern and Eastern European countries last summer and I’m keen to go back! I fell in love with the vibrant culture, the beautiful landscapes, the Art Nouveau architecture and the Renaissance art. I must go back and explore Western and Northern Europe!

Torey Lau holds a bachelor’s of science in pharmacy and has worked as a clinical hospital pharmacist since 2015. Torey is now an MD candidate at the UBC Fraser Medical Program under the supervision of Dr. Theodore Steiner. He researches cellular responses to C. difficile infections and to antibiotic hypersensitivities. In his spare time, Torey is an avid soccer, volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee player. He’s also a budding photographer and constantly updating his photography website




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