'Boy Wonder' Gets PhD at Age 19

Sho Timothy Yano Sho Timothy Yano

"Boy Wonder" Sho Timothy Yano, who started university at the age of nine after being schooled at home by his Japanese father and Korean mother, will get his PhD in molecular genetics and cytology from the University of Chicago on Friday at the age of 19.

Studying for his PhD, Yano discovered two new proteins that inhibit the growth of highly pathogenic bacteria, which he named "gp6" and "gp8." His doctoral thesis explained how new antibiotics could be developed by using them, and he has applied for patents on his findings.

But Yano still found time for plenty of extra-curricular activities. He joined groups that were unrelated to his major and enjoyed canoeing and bowling with his friends and his 13-year-old sister Sayuri. "Playing the piano and composing music helped me find answers when I got stuck in my research," he says. "I'm composing a classical piece based on Goethe's 'Faust.'"

In May, he played the piano with his sister at an event at Roosevelt University, where she studies. Sayuri, who was born in June 1996, was also schooled at home and entered Truman College, a two-year community school, at the age of 10. She then transferred to Roosevelt University. Like her brother, she plans to go to medical school.

"I want to become a neurosurgeon," Yano said. "I want to shed light on how the human brain works so that I can be of help to patients and their families."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 27, 2009 11:54 KST