16-Year-Old Graduates from Rutgers in 2.5 Years

All you have to do is meet Kyle Loh to realize he's a pretty normal kid, except he is on a mission.

"I like dance music a lot," this 16-year-old said as he listened to Lady Gaga on his MacBook Pro.

But elsewhere on his computer is his most recent paper entitled "Chemical Inhibitors of TGF-beta Signaling and Other Molecules Replace Sox-2 in the Pluripotent Reprogramming of Differentiated Human and Marine Cells."

Or, as he explained it in English: "How skin cells can turn into stem cells."

So, yes, Kyle is very smart.

He had to be to have gone straight from Eighth grade (when he was 13) in Mendham to college (okay, he cheated a little; he spent part of his last year in middle school at the County College of Morris), and then to graduate from Rutgers University in only two and a half years.

Should we mention that while he was 14 and 15, he spent a total of two summers and one semester studying and researching at Harvard's Stem Cell Institute?

His passion is the promise of healing that stem cells can bring to people with various diseases or spinal injuries -- a field he was able to pursue at the UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School which partners with Rutgers.

Kyle's emphasis right now, in light of the ethical debate over using embryonic stem cells for research, is to find a way to turn skin cells into usable stem cells.

See above: "Chemical Inhibitors of TGF-beta... " well, you get the idea.

But he says he mixes well with all ages, and doesn't feel socially isolated.

For example, he likes "The Office" on TV.

But when he was asked if he has ever seen Snooki on the "Jersey Shore" program that's all the rage with many young adults, he responded "I think that's way before my time."

We took that as a 'No.'

"He's mature for his age," said his Mom, Doreen Loh, 50, a senior data analyst at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

And while she was concerned about him missing the social life of high school, she said he reassured her by saying,  "I'm sorry Mom, I cannot be a cookie cutter son."

What's next for this 16 year old whiz kid?

For starters, he does have a driver's permit.

But this summer he will be studying and researching at the Genome Institute of Singapore, so it seems unlikely he'll get much driving experience there.

This fall, he will pursue his Ph.D. at Stanford and within four years or so hopes to land a research position.

By then he should be 20, or 21 at the outside.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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