Impact of Giving

These are the stories of the individuals and foundations who help advance Chicago medicine and science through their vision and philanthropy.


John and Cecila Lok at their home in southern California  

Donor Stories

Lok Family Establishes Scholarship Fund

Throughout his undergraduate and medical school training at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, John Lok, AB ’74, MD ’78, was influenced by a number of faculty whom he says emphasized the pursuit of excellence. Now he and his wife, Cecilia, hope to influence others with the John and Cecilia Lok Scholarship Fund, which will provide significant scholarship support for future medical students.

“I was very fortunate and had a unique experience from college to medical school, and we wanted to give that same opportunity to others,” John says. “We want to see a future generation of physicians who are well educated, confident, and compassionate.” 

Lok, who made a bequest provision through his estate to fund the scholarship, cites Dr. Pierce Gardner, a former professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Chicago, as one of the biggest influences on his education. “He was intelligent, knowledgeable, and really a mentor to a lot of students and staff here,” Lok says. “He was also a major influence on my interest in infectious disease.” 

Chicago key to specialist's career success
An infectious disease specialist in southern California, Lok was instrumental in issuing policies and procedures that helped ease some of the tension and anxiety related to the H1N1 influenza outbreak that swept through the U.S. in 2009. With guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the local health department, his team developed a hospital policy for isolation and therapy. 

All total, he treated nearly 50 people including some critically ill pregnant women, who were the highest risk group with the highest mortality. His hospital, however, saw no fatalities. 

“In my career, I’ve seen so much pain and suffering from people of all walks of life, some with very serious infectious disease issues like the H1N1,” Lok says. “And when there’s a fear in the community, it really gives me a lot of personal satisfaction to be able to eradicate those fears.”

Students taught analytical thinking
Medical training at the University of Chicago also emphasized analytic thinking rather than memorizing factual data, Lok shared, which he has applied consistently throughout his career.

“What stands out for me was the academic environment and intellectual atmosphere at Chicago,” he says. “Everybody there, from the medical students to the medical staff and faculty, was eager to participate in the learning process and it was just incredible for me.” And with the John and Cecilia Lok Scholarship Fund, they are hopeful the experience will be just as meaningful for other students.

For Cecilia, the gift is also one of the most consequential expressions of their philanthropic donations since the gift will have a far-reaching impact. “For a long time, John has been thinking about the different avenues of donating to the University,” she says. “We are proud to be able to move forward with this bequest.”

For those set to begin their medical education, Lok advises them to be diligent, to maintain intellectual curiosity, and to be passionate about their future profession. “It’s really your love for the profession that counts,” he says.

And it is that love that has resulted in his successful 32-year career. “I want to be remembered as an infectious disease specialist who was respected by his peers and medical community and who consistently provided high quality care to all his patients, rich or poor, and regardless of their background,” he says.  

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