Lori K. Handy

Lori K. Handy headshot

Dr. Lori Kestenbaum Handy is an infectious diseases pediatrician at CHOP. She is also an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Before going to medical school, Lori worked as a research assistant. After medical school, she completed an infectious disease fellowship. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Handy was the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at CHOP. Lori also works with the Vaccine Education Center, providing information for parents in “Dr. Handy’s Corner,” part of the VEC’s Parents PACK program.

In addition to being a medical doctor (MD), Lori has a bachelor’s degree (BS) in biological psychology and a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology (MSCE).


How did you first become interested in science?

Science was part of my childhood— my great grandparents were physicians; my grandfather was an engineer; my dad was an engineer… it was always around. I remember a childhood science project learning about snow, and my friend and I went to a local ski resort to learn how ski mountains used massive machinery to generate fluffy white snow each night. I remember playing outside and keeping inchworm farms. Learning how the world worked was sort of a ‘given’ in our home. 

Who was your favorite science teacher growing up and why?

Mr. Policastro. He taught Physical Science. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the content we learned, but I remember we had so much fun. A fun classroom fosters a love of learning about science that is more lasting than the content itself. 

What advice do you have for students interested in a STEM career?

Find mentorship in the real world. The classroom is a wonderful place to learn scientific concepts and how to think scientifically, but you are limited by the 1-2 people that you connect with at your school. Look outside and find places where you can shadow, get a summer job, or volunteer. Keep an open mind. Ask your teachers, your friends’ parents, or people in your community to point you to resources. I started out mostly interested in psychology, then I thought I would be a neuroscientist, then a pharmacologist, then a neurologist … and, here I am, a pediatric infectious disease physician. You will find different content interesting, and different people who inspire you. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Making a sick child well again. Infectious diseases can be terrifying, but the advent of antibiotics and the powerful way in which they can modify an illness in a child is beautiful, and the joy of a healthy child returning back to our outpatient office after a complicated hospitalization is fun and rewarding, and it never gets tiring. 

What current scientific discovery or project are you most excited about?

Vaccines, vaccines, vaccines. The introduction of mRNA vaccine technology in the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked scientific hope in this type of vaccine platform for a number of other illnesses. As a society, we have come so far in reducing illness and death from infectious diseases, but each winter our hospital fills up with children sick from numerous infections. The promise of additional vaccines for illnesses that hospitalize children is very exciting.