“He has become very famous for his work on stem cells”

by Jordana Lenon, June 20, 2017

Very few of us have had the chance to interview a famous person, write an article and publish it in our local newspaper. Even fewer have done so in the second grade.

Fifteen years ago, seven-year-old Ian Hutchcroft strolled into Jamie Thomson’s office, talked to him for a while, then wrote a story for The Falk Kids Press. Published on April 14, 2002 in the Wisconsin State Journal, the supplement featured Ian’s story and others from his classmates at Falk Elementary School in Madison. Ian’s teacher, Marilyn Harper, had asked her students to choose topics they were interested in from current news stories.

Fast forward to 15 years later and, as Ian wrote, the types of stem cells Thomson first grew most certainly have become “useful for treating things like heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and leukemia.” Today, cells and tissues grown from embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and other types of cells are used widely in pharmaceutical research and development. There are also some stem cell based therapies in human cell transplant clinical trials for these diseases.

I found Ian on Facebook and caught up with him this June. He was happy to give us some updates via email as he is in Japan this summer:

I received my B.A. summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College in Los Angeles in May 2016, majoring in Diplomacy and World Affairs and minoring in economics.

I’ll be teaching English at an academic high school in Miyazaki City, Japan with the JET Programme until next year. After Japan, I want to apply for a development or public-policy related fellowship or continue to a master’s  program in a related field. My favorite part of  the job is sharing American culture with the students and learning about Japanese culture through activities like tea ceremony and calligraphy club. Many of my students are interested in science-related careers, and want to learn English because it is a global medium of scientific communication.

My long-term goal is to join the foreign service, work for an international organization, or become a professor. Please send my best regards to Dr. Thomson and thank him for his willingness to meet with curious elementary school students. Having the chance to interview him was a formative experience in my early life.

I sent those regards to Jamie, who remembered Ian’s visit. Reading the story, it’s easy to see why.