The 15 year-old stem cell researcher on launching a career in science.
Question: Was there a particular moment when you realized you wanted to be a scientist?
Loh: Not exactly, but I remember in 5th grade at the start of elementary school, I got this manual called [IB] Manual, that’s the diagnostic handbook for doctors and that really inspired me and then 6th grade, I heard about a stem cell researcher at Rutgers called the [IB] and about… he did a lot of the work with stem cells and spinal cord injury. And I just got really excited to jump in and I kept on hearing all these different people saying different things and I asked, “You know, one day, is it possible if I could actually be doing the work?” And I think that’d be cool to just do something hands on and find it work and I think that’s meaningful in life if I can do something that can help ameliorate the suffering of human beings. And I think that as I’ve just gotten more and more into research, that’s just what I hope to do.
Question: How did you end up at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute?
Loh: I was an undergrad at Rutgers and I was just browsing around the Harvard website for fun and it said something like, there’s a summer internship program for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and I was… and I said, like, “There are hundreds of really smart kids applying for this. I’m just going to apply for fun ‘cause I have nothing better to do.” And so I applied and miraculously I got in, I was so shocked when I read the acceptance e-mail, I thought it was a prank or they have forgotten to insert the word, “You weren’t accepted” but I’ll have to say that that acceptance was based on certain really, really influential mentors and so I have to thank Dr. Doug Melton who is the director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute who has guided me a lot and Dr. [Willy Lynch] at Harvard Medical School who really made this happen.