Timothy Chai

Timothy Chai

Saratoga, CA

“The Amgen Scholars Program’s done a spectacular job of putting together a well-rounded group of people.”

Host University: University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Home University: UCLA
Amgen Scholar Year: 2014
Major: Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Biology
Expected Graduation: 2015

Journey to Science

Like many families, Timothy Chai’s was burdened with diabetes. When his grandmother received the diagnosis, insulin wasn’t widely available in Taiwan. Doctors told Tim’s grandfather to prepare for a funeral. Tim’s grandfather had different ideas. Though he was not a professionally trained scientist, he searched far and wide for a treatment, and ultimately found literature on insulin.

Whether it’s scientific curiosity or old-fashioned stubbornness, Tim’s drive comes from his grandfather, whose resilience not only saved Tim’s grandmother’s life but also taught Tim not to take everything at face value. Tim hopes to research cancer treatments and see patients once he earns an M.D.-Ph.D.

Academic and Professional Ambitions

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

“In the future I’d love to do some work in biotechnology, so I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to see what that world was like – plus the networking has been phenomenal!”


What did you work on in the lab?

“My research focused on metabolism and its effect on development. Specifically, I worked on exploring the developmental role of the ribose metabolism.”


What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

“Ultimately I would love to pioneer new fields of research and hopefully contribute to the cure of cancer, so it has been incredibly rewarding to work on an understudied metabolic pathway. One day I’d love to work for a top research university in the San Francisco Bay Area like Stanford or University of California, San Francisco.”


What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience?

“Definitely the networking. We’re a very diverse group of students with a similar passion for science. The Program’s done a spectacular job of putting together a well-rounded group of people.”