When Chi Ngai Chan enrolled at high school in Penwortham he couldn’t speak English - now he is a top international scientist researching a cure for AIDS in New York.
Born in Macau in southern China he moved to live with a family member in School Lane, Bamber Bridge when he was 11. He was the first student from Macua to join Penwortham Priory Academy and by the time he finished his studies at the Crow Hills Road School was head boy.
Chi, 28, said: “When I arrived at Priory, my command of English was poor. However the staff and pupils took me in as one of their own and gave me the opportunity to learn.
“I grabbed the opportunities and remember ruining many teachers’ tea-breaks with my after class questions, haunting the library and handing in over-the-top school projects.”
Teacher John Wall recalls: “I remember the conversations Chi had in music about different versions of various classical works, their conductors and their merits – all in Year 10.”
By the time he left school at 16 he had 11 A* GSCEs and two As to take with him to Runshaw College where he notched up four grade As at A-Level in maths, chemistry biology and physics. He then went on to study natural sciences at Cambridge, where he won a prize for the best final year project, and later went on to do a PhD at the University of Glasgow.
“For my PhD research, I worked on the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) which is the cat version of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) that causes AIDS.”
From this he has gone on to a post-doctoral researcher at New York University, working on how to cure HIV-AIDS.
“My current job requires me to work long hours but I hope what I am doing will contribute to our knowledge on the virus and may lead to a cure. Everything I learned at Priory has proved to be useful in my future adventures.”