Angela Zhang is, and she’s just been awarded the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Her project was entitled “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.”
Her creation is being heralded as a “Swiss army knife of cancer treatment.” Zhang managed to develop a nanoparticle that can be delivered to the site of a tumor through the drug salinomycin. Once there it kills the cancer stem cells. However, Zhang went further and included both gold and iron-oxide components, which allow for non-invasive imaging of the site through MRI and Photoacoustics.
As to why she chose this as her project, Zhang explains that she was surprised when looking at the survival rates of patients receiving cancer treatment. As cancer stem cells are resistant to many forms of cancer treatment, it seemed like an area worth focusing on. Her nanoparticle is award-winning due to the fact it has the potential to overcome cancer resistance while offering up the ability to monitor the effects of the treatment in real-time using existing imaging techniques.
Zhang’s achievement is impressive considering she is only 17 years old, but also due to the level of understanding required to create such a nanoparticle in the first place. She has spent over 1,000 hours since 2009 researching and developing the particle, and wants to go on to study chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, or physics. Her dream job is to be a research professor.
The Siemens Competition is in its 13th year and aims to highlight talent at the high school level for those interested in science research. Last year 15-year-old Benjamin Clark won the Individual category for his work into how stars are born. In 2009 Ruoyi Jiang won for his research into chemotherapy drug resistance.
I think we can all agree this is a very worthwhile competition, and long may it continue if it pushes young minds to create solutions to some of our biggest problems
I'm glad there are still some programs in American schools that allow this. I have no idea how she built a nanno particle. In every school i have ever been in such equipment does not exist. But did she make it or design it the article is unclear as it says "creation" which could mean either. Either way I am glad she got the 100k Cancer is a big business for many. But not for student they don't make any money, so it's wonderful the incentive was there and this brain is being rewarded for all her work. Thank you capitalism.
On another note, this story has made an astonishing lack of major news. As our scientists are paid to lie about the climate, being bust twice now in huge stashes of email exchanges admitting their guilt, doesn't it make you wonder about how sincere research into curing cancer has really been? Politics pollutes science. We see that clearly in climate-gate. Could their be a cancer-gate? We've got to get government's hand out of science. By the way the private foundation that spends 7 million a year to gather all these bright kids and give them a chance to reach their potential is out of Germany. This could be a cure for cancer, or at least a way to treat cancer once it is diagnosed. Funded by a private corporation for less than one hour of the war in Afghanistan.
Less money for grunts and bombs, more money for nerds!