Student intern begins a science career in HSCI laboratories

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.