ChangeMakers: Max Lau

18 Dec 2015

With an OP of 1 or ATAR of 99.95, an associate diploma in piano, a position on the Gold Coast Youth Symphony, an associate diploma in speech and drama, and keen interests in debating, sailing and the Navy Cadets, Max Lau was more than a deserving recipient of the UQ Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2011.

It was an opportunity Lau took with gusto, completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biomedical Science with the intention of securing a position at the UQ School of Medicine.

While he secured that position, Lau’s performance throughout his undergraduate degree, including during internships with the UQ Diamantina Institute, afforded him a second scholarship as the inaugural recipient of the Otto and Joan Hirschfeld Memorial Honours Scholarship recipient in 2014.

“My investigation [during an internship] of host genetic effects on intestinal architecture and mucosal immunology reaffirmed my interest in research and after graduating, I deferred entry to the UQ medical program to pursue Honours,” Lau said.

Established in 2013, the scholarship is awarded to high-performing Science students studying in the field of immunology.

“Without these scholarships, I would not have had the freedom to pursue cutting-edge research alongside prominent researchers in facilities that few are lucky to work in,” Lau said.

“These learning opportunities have enabled me to publish my first journal article and influenced my dreams.”

Lau’s Honours research project centred around ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and pelvis that is progressively debilitating and driven by abnormal immune responses.

“Current treatment only alleviates the immediate pain and symptoms in patients with no major effect on the underlying pathophysiology process,” Lau said.

“This is primarily due to our lack of understanding of the intricacies in the mechanism of the disease.

“Having the opportunity to seek out answers in an area where no other person has is truly incredible; so much so that a year’s worth of research just wasn’t enough and I continued on for another year!”

Lau is the first in his family to attend university, and is acutely aware that his scholarships have played a key role in establishing his career.

He was also resolutely determined to ensure he maximised his time at UQ, knowing there are others who have not been fortunate enough to attend university.

“Socioeconomic circumstances remain a significant barrier to receiving higher education for new generations despite immeasurable sacrifices by parents,” Lau said.

“The nurturing, shaping and encouraging of individual talents and aspirations by UQ breaks this cycle.

“Without my scholarships, I wouldn't be where I am today.”

Having now completed his first year at the School of Medicine, Lau is looking forward to the impact he can create in the fields of medicine and immunology.

“Studying medicine and conducting research at UQ equips me with a diverse skill set,” he said.

“Being prepared to tackle health issues that face our society is important to me. 

“As a clinician scientist, I hope to explore both aspects of patient care and translational research to further our knowledge of diseases.”

For many students at UQ, a scholarship is the difference between continuing their studies or dropping out. 

To support student scholarships at UQ, please consider a gift to The University of Queensland's Scholarship Endowment Fund. 

Your support will help ease the burden of fee payments, buying books and coping with living expenses, making it possible for students to focus on their studies and excel in their chosen course. Your gift could support a student like Max achieve their full potential. Please give today.