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Clever Girl

17-Year-Old Girl Won High School Science Competition With Breakthrough Cancer-Killer

God! I really hate it when teenagers make me look lazy. Seventeen-year-old Angela Zhang has just won herself $100,000 in a high school science competition. What did she win for? Oh, you know, nothing big. Just a possible cure for cancer. 

Zhang took home the Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for her project “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.”

From the Foundations website:

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies. In her research, Angela Zhang aimed to design a CSC-targeted, gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with a potential to eradicate these cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging. This nanosystem could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.

The teen is a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. To which I say, how is she still in high school??

To use a bit more simplified language, listen to one of the judges. “Angela created a nanoparticle that is like a Swiss army knife of cancer treatment,” said Tejal Desai, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Francisco. “She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for noninvasive imaging.” It’s basically personalized cancer medicine.

“It is a remarkable day for American innovation when our high school students do science research at this level,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation. “I hope other students will follow their example and embrace STEM subjects with such vigor. These young innovators are poised to drive the next generation of advances in science and technology.”

According to MSNBC, “Another $100,000 team grand prize was shared by Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain, seniors at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., who hacked an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor to analyze the walking patterns of people wearing prosthetics.” More teenagers making me look bad for just playing video games with mine.

Zhang began her work on this project in 2009 (you know, when she was 15, no big deal) and spent an estimated 1,000 hours on her research. She’s planning on majoring in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics and would like to someday become a research professor.

I see a Big Bang Theory cameo in her future.

(via Geekosystem)

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  • Robert Hill-Williams

    That’s amazing. My greatest accomplishment in high school was graduating despite never doing homework.
    Well played, younger generation, well played…

  • Anonymous

    My question for these kinds of kids is where are they doing this research? My high school lab was certainly not well equipped enough to handle this kind of work. Are they converting basements into super-tech labs?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    “A remarkable day for American innovation when our high school students…” Hm, I’m not sure whether I like the possible connotations here. This particular accomplishment doesn’t seem like something that the American school system should be credited with and isn’t an American innovation more like the Model T than a cancer treatment that could and should (if it works) be used around the globe? This is Nobel Prize material, not high-school-blue-ribbon baking soda + artshop clay = volcano tripe.

    Seriously, though. I mean, seriously!? Can you imagine standing next to this woman in a science lab? I would feel just around two inches tall. Amazing!

  • Bracken Markins

    I stamped 100 envelopes today. So, pretty much the same thing really…

  • Eva Marie Heater

    That’s my question, too. My high school was not equipped for anything close to this.

  • Rebecca Brewer

    She probably had access to a university laboratory; when I did science fairs in high school I was lucky enough to be able to work with a professor at the nearby college.

  • John Wao

    I went to the website and I’m amazed at the stuff these high school kids are working on. This gives me hope for our country.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Yeah, they mentioned she had a mentor who was a professor so I’m assuming that person’s university lab.

  • Anonymous

  • Ashley Sue

    The only thing I was able to do in high school was successfully hide in the bathroom to change for gym class everyday. :(

  • Anonymous

    She’d better get some patent action on that, because if her drug really cures cancer, $100,000 is slim pickins.  At least she can pay for 2 years of college!

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully this helps in the treatment of some forms cancer, but probably not yet a single “cure” for all cancer, as the various forms of cancer are individual diseases.  Kudos to her, though.

  • Emily Hill

    give it time the drug companies like oil will pay or attempt to pay her off as you make more money treating cancer than curing it

  • Anonymous

  • Cherbot3000

    For those of you who wondered about the high school lab, she lives in Cupertino.   She should have access to all kinds of things normal high school don’t including access to Stanford.  It’s like 12 miles from Cupertino.

  • Paula D. Brown

    I love this young lady!!!  She is heaven sent!!!

  • opus132

    That’s a common but false idea. Pharma companies are all competing for cancer patients. There’s billions of dollars out there for any treatment that is better than others, and the company can charge more for one that is more effective. A cure for any form of cancer would blow away the competition, giving the world market to that one company for that type of cancer, and could be sold for a huge profit because it would actually cure the disease. A great business model, much better than a ‘treatment’ that is competing with many others. Not to mention that most treatments are not long-term, but are only given for one phase of the disease, so won’t bring in any more dollars than a cure. If the patient fails that drug and goes on to the next level of drugs, chances are that the next drug is sold by a different company. Believe me, pharma companies are not in it to watch their competitors make the money. There is just no financial incentive to treat rather than cure cancer.
    In addition, remember that Pharma companies are not populated by troops of Dr. Evil clones, but rather by individuals who most likely have dealt with cancer personally, in a family member, a friend, or themselves. I’d quit my job in an instant if my company withheld a cure for cancer, and so would half the company. But they won’t — they know that the cure would mean huge profits plus a huge boost in public perception. And, of course, the scientists who developed it would get world recognition, a driving factor for many scientists.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how a High School student can come up with such a find and these BILLON DOLLAR CANCER RESEACHERS CAN’T.

  • Brian Davis

    Who is conducting the human trials?  What forms of cancer are being tested?

  • bap

    same here