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Published 30 August 2023

London International Youth Science Forum inspires future doctor

Photo: London International Youth Science Forum participants (left to right) Luca Ririnui, Joesph Bahoo, and Kaita Jibiki.

Joseph Bahoo from Sacred Heart College, Auckland was one of three students Royal Society Te Apārangi supported to attend the London International Youth Science Forum last month – a summer residential school that connects the world’s brightest rangatahi with Nobel Prize winners, and top UK universities. 

Joseph says the experience was life changing, and he now aims to become a doctor and use his skills to one day help people in his home country of Iraq. 

“The London International Youth Science Forum was absolutely amazing. it truly was an honour to attend and represent Aotearoa.”

Joseph says the calibre of their lecturers was outstanding, including Nobel Prize Winner, Professor Ben Feringa, who gave the keynote address.

He says it is hard to narrow down an event that interested him the most, but some that stood out were Professor David Nutt's lecture on 'Why Scientists Should Also Be Revolutionaries', Dr Stephen Maher's lecture on 'The Past, Present, and Future Treatment of Cancer', and Dr Padmasayee Papineni's lecture on 'Emerging Infections'. 

Joseph says each of the lectures helped him develop interests in the different fields of psychopharmacology and psychiatry (neuroscience), cancer research, and epidemiology. 

“I also confirmed a deep interest in surgery upon visiting the University of Bristol, School of Anatomy, as well as the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.”

He says these events out of the many on offer allowed him to come back to Aotearoa with a strong idea of his next steps in tertiary education – study medicine with the aim of becoming a doctor.

“And after that, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to continue further studies, possibly overseas. 

“While I do have plenty of time until this happens, the London International Youth Science Forum already has me dreaming of future specialisations and specific fields I would like to enter.”

Joseph says aside from the educational benefits that the forum gave him, it was valuable to spend two weeks with a range of different people and cultures from all over the world. 

“The stories people had to offer only make it clearer to me how fortunate we are to live in Aotearoa New Zealand, compared to many countries who are in states of instability in many fields. 

“It was this aspect of the forum which has inspired me to travel overseas sometime after my study, hoping to serve in programmes like Mercy Ships, or Doctors without Borders.”

He says these programmes strive to serve those struggling from health issues in regions of high conflict or inadequate healthcare systems. 

Joseph says that if he got to choose, he would love to pursue medical aid in Iraq, where years of conflict and inadequate systems mean that a large portion of the population suffers from poor healthcare. 

“As Assyrian Christians, my family is among many that have fled Iraq fearing instability, war, and persecution due to religion. 

“The Assyrians, once a culturally dominant Civilisation, have now become a Christian minority in the Middle East, and it would be an honour to go and serve those who are continuously facing such situations.

“I am forever thankful to all of those who have supported me, including Royal Society Te Apārangi. Without their support, none of this would have been possible.”

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi