He's a genius, and he's only 10 years old

February 03, 1992|By Jeff D. Opdyke | Jeff D. Opdyke,Orange County Register

COSTA MESA, CALIF. HC — COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Masoud Karkehabadi is dazzled by the mysteries of the brain, excited at the thought of a career spent unraveling its intricacies. The pre-med student knows he has the mind for it: He tutors other students in algebra and upper-division anatomy.

But it's the childhood fantasies of "Peter Pan" that bring fire to his eyes.

At 10 years old, Masoud is a genius wrapped in the body of a boy.

His IQ rests somewhere above 200, and as a sophomore at Orange Coast College he carries a class load twice as heavy as the average student. Yet he has never attended a formal elementary or high school.

He climbs trees, sings along to MTV and often slips into his own mind to rerun "Peter Pan." At times his eyes grow wide and blank as the movie begins to play somewhere in the recesses of his brain, and he recites each character's line -- precisely -- as he mimics their actions.

Next fall, he will enroll at the University of California, Irvine, to pursue a degree in biological sciences. And by the time he is 15 -- before he is even eligible to drive -- he could be starting his first year of residency as a physician.

"I want to be a brain surgeon because the brain is the least-understood organ, and I want to be able to find the cure for Alzheimer's because I want to use my gift to help society," Masoud said in a rapid-fire monologue of aspirations, which include medical school at either Harvard or Johns Hopkins University.

But as Masoud continues, his mouth struggles to keep pace with his brain, and his father, Mike Karkehabadi, gently reminds him to slow down.

"You watch how fast his mind processes information and you realize words are simply an inconvenience," said Mr. Karkehabadi.

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