Is the Life of a Child Prodigy Lonely? | Where Are They Now | Oprah Winfrey Network

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-Was it ever lonely for you? Because here you are, this 10-year-old kid in college. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was-- it was a bit strange, of course, being that much younger, but honestly, it didn't feel that abnormal. I had lots of friends in college, and hung out with a lot of the people there in my programs, and I had lots of friends my own age, too. And I think that was really important. You still had friends your own age? Yeah. yeah. You could hang out with 10-year-olds? Sure. What did you have in common with 10-year-olds? Everything. I mean, sure, we were in a different grade, but we still liked a lot of the same things. We liked sports, we liked going out, just having a good time, and-- I mean, really, my parents always tried when I was little to make sure I was grounded, and interacted with my own age, and still had friends, and still was a normal child. Yeah. When you're this intellectually gifted, does it force you to grow up faster than you would have wanted to? I think it definitely required me to grow up faster. I didn't feel like I was growing up faster while I was living it. It's just because that's your life. Right. I was just living my life. I was doing the things I wanted to do. I think once all the attention started, and-- David Letterman, 60 Minutes, the Oprah Show. The Oprah Show. Yeah. How did that impact you? It was crazy. Like, there would be people that would recognize me everywhere. I was telling the story to your producers, that after I was on your show, every time, because you'd have, like, my email address on your show afterwards, the school servers would shut down. Just crash. They just couldn't handle the constant bombardment of people that were interested in my story. Wow. And it was amazing. It was flattering. It was incredible to be a part of that. It gave you a platform for being able to speak. It gave me a voice. And that was-- and that was incredible. I mean, there are so many issues that I was very passionate, and still am very passionate about. And it gave me an opportunity to speak about them to a national audience, an international audience, and really share my message for the world. So what are you doing now? I'm a post-doctoral researcher at Mount Sinai in the Birtwistle lab there. What we do is try to understand stochastic gene expression. So how seemingly identical cells, they might express individual proteins differently from one cell to the next. Because ultimately you want to-- Basically build better drugs. With the kind of work that I work on, computational biology, with that kind of research we can make predictions on what might be good drug targets, and really cut down that amount of time it would potentially take to get a new drug on the market. So in your lifetime, will we cure cancer? Well, that's a tough question to answer. I think it's certainly possible during my lifetime that we'll be able to develop really effective, targeted treatments for people's individual versions of cancers that they have, and that is incredible.

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