If you ask Dr. Lachlan Forrow ’78 about Dr. Albert Schweitzer, you’re likely to hear an enthusiastic response about the late Nobel laureate’s extraordinary range of talents, from his work as a young theologian to his campaign against nuclear weapons near the end of his life. But it is Schweitzer’s most famous contribution — as a doctor, tending to underserved patients in Lambaréné, Gabon — that has helped to shape Forrow’s career.
Dr. Lachlan Forrow ’78, pictured with a portrait of Dr. Albert Schweitzer. (Courtesy Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center)
Forrow, a philosophy major at Princeton, traveled to Gabon in 1982, taking a break from his studies at Harvard Medical School to work for three months in the hospital that Schweitzer founded. The brief fellowship was a challenging experience that left a lasting impression.
Nearly a decade later, as board member of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Forrow helped launch a program for U.S. Schweitzer Fellows — aspiring medical professionals who would help to address unmet needs in American cities. In the last 18 years, the program’s annual cohort has grown from 12 fellows to 250, and Forrow, now president of the fellowship group, aims to double that number in the next five years.
“Schweitzer started his hospital in Lambaréné, but he said that everyone has his or her own Lambaréné,” Forrow said. “When they find it, it’s very fulfilling. … We’re trying to help people find their Lambaréné.”