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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

Remembering our friend, Lawrence Cheung, MD, FAAD, FASDS


It is with great sadness that the leadership of the San Francisco Marin Medical Society (SFMMS) learned of the passing of our dear friend, Lawrence Cheung, MD, FAAD, FASDS.

Dr. Cheung exemplified what it means to be a physician leader, contributing his seemingly boundless energy to the priorities and values of organized medicine. A Past-President of SFMMS, Dr. Cheung served as Chair of the SFMMS Delegation to the California Medical Association (CMA); as the CMA Chair of the California Resolutions Committee to the American Medical Association (AMA) and then the PacWest Conference Resolutions Co-Chair; and as an AMA Delegate representing CMA. Dr. Cheung also served as a CMA Trustee for District VIII/SFMMS, ensuring that the interests and values of physicians in San Francisco and Marin were represented in the statewide deliberations of the CMA. In 2022, Dr. Cheung was elected Vice-Speaker of the CMA’s House of Delegates, a key leadership position and stepping-stone to the CMA Presidency.

As a solo private practice dermatologist, Dr. Cheung was a tireless advocate for the independence and autonomy of the practice of medicine, ensuring that our private practice members were well represented in the deliberations of the SFMMS. Dr. Cheung was a thought leader, acting as the principal investigator of a clinical trials unit that focuses on phase III trials on dermatologic treatments. Dr. Cheung was a mentor, serving as an active volunteer instructor with teaching responsibilities at UCSF, St.Mary’s Medical Center, and CPMC, and counseling newer members with aspirations of reaching the same levels of leadership that Dr. Cheung did.

Dr. Cheung also spent significant time working to advance health and equity in the San Francisco Chinatown community, advancing National Asian-American Pacific Islander interests. As a former SF Health Authority Commissioner overseeing the county Medi-Cal managed care plan, Dr. Cheung presided as the first National President of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) and served as a Board Director for the National Council of Asian and Pacific Islander Physicians (NCAPIP).

In 2023, Dr. Cheung received certificates of recognition from the California State Senate, the City and County of San Francisco, and from SFMMS, in honor of his invaluable service to the medical community and steadfast commitment to public health.

As a direct result of Dr. Cheung’s vision and leadership, SFMMS attained key public health policy victories related to the regulation of e-cigarettes and sugary beverages, which served as a template for similar regulation across the state. Throughout his time in organized medicine, Dr. Cheung consistently advocated for forward-thinking public health policy and for closing the gap in access to care for the most underserved members of our community. As a result of his leadership, the lives of countless Californians have been improved and lengthened. Because of his selfless contributions, the legacy of the Medical Society is his legacy.

A message from retired SFMMS CEO Mary Lou Licwinko:

“From the time I first met Lawrence I knew he had a special talent for leading. He was smart and optimistic and was always supportive of the Medical Society (and me). He quickly rose from member, to Board Member to President. He was one of the youngest Presidents of what was then the San Francisco Medical Society (SFMS). His year as SFMS President in 2014 was a year of political activism. He was passionate about public health and so at a local level he led the fight against Big Soda to tax sugary drinks in San Francisco. He also worked that year statewide to help defeat Proposition 46 that would have raised the MICRA cap. He was extremely generous and always made his home available to hold events for political candidates. These events always included great food and wine.  

His other contributions to SFMMS and the CMA were numerous. A few of these included chairing the District VIII Delegation for many years and serving as campaign manager for Dr. Peter Bretan’s successful run for CMA President. He continued to contribute even after he was diagnosed and was elected CMA Vice Speaker.

He loved to cook and would post and send pictures of the meals he so meticulously prepared. We both enjoyed wine so he organized a group to purchase his favorite wine from the Hess Winery and ship it to me as a gift when I retired during the pandemic.  

I think I shall always remember Lawrence for his indomitable spirit, which he displayed to the end of his life. He fought his cancer with such grace and strength while at the same time realizing his dream to become a leader in the CMA. He died too young but lived every moment while he was with us. I will miss him.”

Dr. Cheung, front row, first from the left, with SFMMS physicians at 2023 CMA Legislative Advocacy Day, meeting with State Senator Scott Wiener.

Dr. Chueng, second from the right, with fellow Delegates at the 2023 American Medical Association’s House of Delegates meeting.

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