​Meet Frank Wolf

From his contributions to our recent COVID-19 and Cancer study to mentoring LGBTQIA+ young adults in the Bay Area, Frank shares what matters most to him — supporting the communities we live and work in.

2020/11 6 min read


What brought you to Syapse?

I’ve been interested in biology since high school and went into a program at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on the intersection of healthcare & business. This included looking at not only the fundamental biological mechanisms of disease but also understanding the business of healthcare. I started working at the strategy consulting practice at Accenture after college. During that time, I realized I wanted to address healthcare not from the role of an individual part of this ecosystem, but rather from an intersectional perspective that interacts with multiple parts of the ecosystem. While I am interested in the business of healthcare, I am fundamentally most motivated by ways of creating social good via science in the context of human health.

When I began the recruiting process at Syapse, the company was so passionate about not only the potential for scientific and business innovation but also the potential for social good as a direct complement to those two things. That is what drew me in. To add to this, I stay at Syapse not only because of the work that I’ve been able to do, but those with whom I do the work. I’ve learned an immense amount from our team.

What project have you been most excited about?

Our recent work with COVID-19. The potential for social good became reality for me with our COVID-19 work. We had the ability to investigate healthcare disparities and generate evidence of not only the disproportionate risk of COVID-19 infection for patients of color but the disproportionate risk of worse outcomes for certain populations as well. We know that healthcare disparities are an issue, but having more and more clear data to continue to accentuate these known issues to prompt action is critical. The ability to add to that body of literature and promote action is particularly timely during a pandemic that has further exposed the systemic inequalities that impact health.

How do you explain your role to your relatives?

In short, I say I help us learn from the patient experience at large health systems to study cancer care.

What has surprised you most since joining Syapse?

The number of different perspectives you need in a single conversation to get things done. The reality is that we sit at the intersection of science and medicine, at the intersection of the clinical and the technical, and at the intersection of business and healthcare. There are so many different languages that we need to be fluent in as a company that you may have some folks who are bi- or trilingual. You need a truly diverse and interdisciplinary set of experts to address these really meaningful challenges. It’s been a tremendous learning experience for me.

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

Continuing to invest in myself holistically. That includes doing work that is personally rewarding for me but doing it at a place that allows for continued investment in my mental and physical health as well. I think that’s been one of the most important things that I’ve prioritized maintaining since joining Syapse. There are obviously more intense periods, but I still feel supported to take the time that I need and to define limits that are appropriate. I want to make sure that I’m not planning for a two-week sprint but rather for a year and beyond at Syapse.

What are you passionate about outside of work and does that influence you at Syapse?

In general, I see science as an instrument for social change and I feel that it is a way to make data-driven arguments to make people’s lives better. One of the topics I’m most passionate about outside of work is LGBTQ+ advocacy. This has taken a number of forms over the years, from formal student organization roles to collaborating with my school’s administration on advocacy projects. In more recent years, I served on the conference board of the Out for Undergrad (O4U) Tech Conference, a professional queer and trans organization that provides opportunities for queer and trans undergrads to better understand how they can pursue the careers that they want without compromising their identity and giving them the tools, skillsets, and mentorship they need to get there. That is something that I immensely benefited from during my undergraduate years and I want to create similar opportunities for others.

Also, one of my favorite cultural parts of San Francisco is the local drag scene; it’s wonderfully vibrant and interesting. For those who aren’t familiar, drag is essentially the performance of a hyper-stylized gender, typically most popular within the queer and trans community. It’s a great cultural expression not only of the history of the community but also a continued legacy of advocacy. It’s been a huge part of my cultural and social life, both before and since moving to San Francisco.

Lighting Round

If you could become an expert at anything instantly, what would it be?

Negotiation. I think people all too often see negotiation as a zero-sum game but I think when done right negotiation can be a ‘grow the pie’ game. It’s understanding when and how to surface opportunities for creative solutions. While I’ve been focused on this skill for a while, I do not consider myself to be an expert. With that said, I think it’s been one of the most valuable investments that I’ve made.

Is there anything new you’re learning right now?

Breast cancer standard of care treatments and epidemiology.

If you could switch roles at Syapse for a day what other job would you like to try?

A clinical analyst. I am able to frame up the conceptual questions I want to ask of the data and understand the whys. I cannot, however, investigate the data independently. At the moment, I don’t have the technical skillset to actually code queries so on and so forth.

COVID aside, where is the first place you want to travel?

There’s a large list. I want to go to Mexico City and Medellin. I’ve also been wanting to go to London, Berlin, Amsterdam; there’s a huge list of places. I need to block a couple of months and say, “I’m doing this.”

What’s been your favorite quarantine meal to cook?

My favorite thing to cook, honestly, is just a very simple baked salmon.