Anya Kimura’s father died of cancer and liver failure shortly before she graduated from high school in Tokyo. She and her mother then moved to the United States, where Kimura enrolled at Harvard College. Soon after, her mother was diagnosed with and succumbed to pancreatic cancer. At a very young age, Kimura, alone in the United States and realizing that her prospects were more promising here than in Japan, dropped out of college to support herself.
Thirsty for knowledge and unafraid of asking questions, Kimura attended free lectures within the Harvard community, where she learned about HSCI. The more HSCI seminars and public forums she attended, the greater her passion grew for stem cell science. Kimura re-enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at the Harvard Extension School, still maintaining her full-time job, and is expected to graduate in 2008.
This summer, Kimura participated in the HSCI Summer Internship Program with support from a generous gift by Anne and Edward Bliss and their grandchildren, Annie and Elisha Lee; Leland and Page McManus; George, Elizabeth, and Margaret Gregory; and Sarah and Cooper McGrath. She balanced her regular job during the week (supporting investigators with clinical trials) with her responsibilities as a full-time HSCI intern, along with a part-time job on the weekends. Kimura remarked that these opportunities have allowed her to experience both sides of medicine, basic research, and its clinical application. She has extended her research experience and is now working in neuronal stem cell research with Kathy Niakan, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Kevin Eggan at Harvard.
Kimura pursues her studies and research with an appetite for learning and hopes ultimately to test her own theories about stem cell function. Deeply curious, she thrives on asking different and broad questions. In a recent conversation, Kimura thought out loud about the complexity of stem cell science, “It’s important to use your imagination. If you don’t question what is possible, you won’t see it. There is really a lot of order and logic to stem cell biology; it’s not magical. I think our role as scientists is to use knowledge to its fullest potential.”
Open to new experiences and extraordinarily dedicated, Kimura is an inspiration to all those curious about how the world works and who dare to pursue their dreams, no matter what happens.