Lala L. Forrest was born on the ancestral land of the Hewisedawi people, in Alturas, California. She is a citizen of the Pit River Nation in Northern California and a descendant of the Modoc and Wintu people. Lala was the first in her family to graduate from a university and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego.
During this time she was an active member of the California Native American Research Center for Health program, where she nurtured her passions for healing and discovery by exploring the intersections of medicine and research. With an interest in health equity, Lala pursued the Postbac Enrichment Program at the National Institutes of Health after graduating college. With the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp technique, she studied insulin sensitivity and resistance to explain the physiological basis for health disparities in Asian and African American communities. After participating in the Post Baccalaureate Program at the University of California, San Francisco, and working as an emergency medical technician in New Haven, Connecticut, Lala matriculated into medical school at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University where she was awarded the Netter scholarship.
While in medical school, Lala co-founded the Perspectives on Equity Advancement: Research and Learning Symposium where students receive grant funding to pursue DEI initiatives programs alongside a supportive mentorship team placement. With an interest in medical education, Lala served as the Assistant Editor for Trainee Engagement for the journal, Academic Medicine. She worked with Drs. Charles Odonkor and Erik Brodt to publish, "Representation of American Indian and Alaska Native Individuals in Academic Medical Training" in JAMA Network Open. In 2023, Lala received her Doctor of Medicine degree with a concentration in medical education and was a recipient of the "Excellence in Clerkship for Psychiatry."
Currently, Lala is a We Are Healers Fellow and an active member of the Association of American Indian Physicians. She is interested in Indigenous mental health, the influence of structural racism on mental inequities, addiction medicine, child and adolescent psychiatry, and psychotherapy. Lala is also an athlete at Branford CrossFit, enjoys live music, attending the Yale Repertory Theatre, and playing with her dog, Tilly.