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23-Year-Old Doctor, the Youngest in Korea

Posted February. 15, 2005 22:37,   


The record for the youngest doctor has been broken.

The hero is Mr. Jung Jin-hyuk (photo), who graduated from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). According to KAIST yesterday, Jung was granted a doctorate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York, U.S.A. on December 30, 2004. It has been 23 years and 11 months since January 1981, when he was born.

The former record was 24 years and two months, which belonged to Yoon Song-ee, a managing director of SK Telecom (29, female), who graduated first from KAIST and earned a doctorate degree at Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Jung’s father is Jung Myeong-gyun (60), a professor of mechanical engineering at KAIST. Jung’s mother is Hong Soon-hae (56, a doctor in health science), the CEO of Bonwon Lifetech Co., Ltd., which is a biotech corporation in Daedeok Science Town.

Jung was persuaded by his father to study at KAIST for one year after finishing both middle and high school in California, where he moved following his father in 1995.

In 2000, he returned to the U.S. for undergraduate studies at RPI (majoring in biophysics and biochemistry), and gained admissions to the doctorate program (major in chemistry) in August 2002. He finally received his doctorate degree after 2.5 years.

His doctoral thesis was on the cohesion of SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) protein, which is known as the only factor of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“The methodology and theory on remedy to the Lou Gehrig’s Disease” in the thesis was applied at the patent offices, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office, for an international patent.

“I participated in graduate laboratory work during the summer after my second year as an undergraduate. Through this research, I successfully achieved cohesion of the SOD protein, which the professor in charge fully appreciated, so that, thanks to the special help of the school, I was able to take the doctorate course simultaneously,” said Jung.

As far as his future plan is concerned, his mother said, “Completing the eight months of the postdoc course, he will start an enterprise for developing new medicines in Korea.”

Ki-Jin Lee doyoce@donga.com