Sho Yano says that even though the reference to the popular ’90s show “Doogie Howser M.D.” amuses him and makes him feel “pretty good,” he doesn’t want to known as a “whiz kid.”
“I kind of want to be the doctor,” he said. “I got through training early [but] my dream is to have a real achievement. Finding anything that would be helpful to people in general. Just knowing that I’m gonna help someone. That would be great.”
A doctor is just what Yano will become Saturday when the 21-year-old becomes the youngest student to attain an M.D. from the University of Chicago.
In 2000, when ABC News interviewed him as a 9-year-old college freshman at Loyola University, he said he eschewed the word “genius.”
“I’m not a genius. I’m gifted,” he told ABC News. “I got a gift from God and I may be accountable to God for using it wisely. Besides, I have to work for it.”
When he was 12 — having already graduated in three years from Loyola University — Yano entered the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, participating in a program where students get both their doctorate and medical degrees.
He completed his first year of medical school, got his Ph.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology and then pursued the rest of medical school so that he’d be at least 18 when it came time to work with patients.
Yano was reading by the age of 2, writing by the age of 3 and composing music by 5. At the age of 8, he scored a 1,500 out of 1,600 on the SAT.
He said today that despite a lot of flak from psychologists, he was not socially stunted and that he appreciated his parents for allowing him to follow his own path and molding him into a well-rounded person.
“I was pretty sure that I could handle it,” he said of his academic career. “I thought it was safe for me. I wanted to try it. I was able to make that choice for myself. … I could’ve gone to school at a normal pace. I don’t think I would’ve been happy.”
Yano is now an accomplished pianist with a black belt in tae kwon do. He said for fun, he played the piano and worked with computer and electronic hardware, calling himself a “hand-radio enthusiast.”
He’s not the only prodigy in the family though. His only sister, Sayuri Yano, 15, is working on her second bachelor’s degree in violin performance at Johns Hopkins University.
Next up for Sho Yano? A five-year residency in pediatric neurology.
“I really don’t regret anything I did,” he told ABC News today. “I have a good idea of how kids and teenagers act. I’m not sure that I would’ve enjoyed that. I don’t think I missed all that much. ”