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Whiz-Kid Brothers, 16 and 12, Plan to Be Doctors in 5 Years


If all goes according to plan, Lee-Loung Liou and his younger brother, Lee-Ming, could be doctors in five years.

They are 16 and 12, respectively.

The Cal State Los Angeles students are smart--so smart that they skipped high school. In fact, Lee-Ming also skipped junior high school and spent only three days in the sixth grade.

Last year, the brothers took courses at Fullerton Community College and Cal State Fullerton, then transferred to Cal State L.A., where they enrolled in a program for gifted children and maintained a straight A average. The brothers say they want to become physicians when they complete medical school at USC, UCLA, Stanford or wherever they are accepted.

"I decided when I was 5 that I wanted to be a doctor," said Lee-Loung, leaning over a stack of medical books in his room.

"And I always wanted to be like my brother," Lee-Ming said.

"We want to do research too. We want to find a cure for diseases like cancer or AIDS," Lee-Loung said.

Prof. Donald Paulson, the boys' organic chemistry teacher at Cal State L.A., said he believes the brothers, who live in Fullerton, can achieve whatever they set their minds to. "The two of them had the top two grades in my class. They're really very, very smart," he said.

Their father, Allen Liou, 55, a computer design consultant, said he started teaching his oldest son multiplication tables at age 7. "Lee-Ming wanted to try, and he picked it up so fast."

Lee-Ming was 3 at the time. By the time he reached fifth-grade, he had already mastered calculus, Allen Liou said.

The brothers, majoring in biochemistry and carrying 24 units each, are expected to receive their bachelor's degrees next summer.

Their mother, Betty Liou, 43, who has a master's degree in special education, said she and her husband taught the boys early that learning was a serious responsibility. It has been the key to their academic success, she said.

"We didn't do anything special," she said. "A lot of people treat a kid like a kid. But they don't realize that children are very curious. They learn faster than adults because their minds are pure."

The boys view their talents with modesty. "I don't think we're that much different than other kids our ages," Lee-Loung said. "I think studying is a little bit easier for us because we've been doing it for so long. It's automatic."

The brothers spend most of their free time practicing the trumpet, riding bicycles, defeating complex computer games and watching their favorite television shows--"Star Trek, The Next Generation" and "Quantum Leap."

"I guess I'm sort of unique because my friends are always telling me they wish they could be where I am right now," said Lee-Ming. "That makes me feel proud of what I've accomplished. But, all I did was study regularly."

"It's no big deal," Lee-Loung said.

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