Youngest Cancer Researcher: Angela Zhang sets world record (Video)
WASHINGTON, DC, USA -- Angela Zhang, 17, a high school student from Cupertino, Calif., won a $100,000 scholarship from the Siemens Foundation for research that created a tiny particle she likened to a "Swiss army knife of cancer treatments" because of its precision in targeting cancer tumors , setting the world record for the Youngest Cancer Researcher, according to World Record Academy (www.worldrecordacademy.com).
Photo: Angela Zhang, 17, of Cupertino won a $100000 scholarship for research that created a tiny particle she likened to a "Swiss army knife of cancer treatments" because of its precision in targeting cancer tumors. Photo: Siemens (enlarge photo)
The Guinness world record for the Youngest undergraduate was set by Michael Kearney, who started studying for an Associate of Science degree at Santa Rosa Junior College, California, USA, in September 1990 at the age of 6 years 7 months.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the youngest university professor, set by Alia Sabur, who was appointed as a full-time faculty Professor of the Department of Advanced Technology Fusion at Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea, aged 18 years 362 days.
The winners announced Monday had competed against 2,436 fellow students who submitted 1,541 projects to the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
Angela Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category for using nanotechnology to eradicate cancer stem cells.
"I asked, 'Why does this happen. Why does cancer cause death? What are we doing to fix this and what can I do to help,'" said the Monta Vista High School senior.
Zhang said the particle she designed improves on current cancer treatments because it delivers a drug directly to tumor cells and doesn't affect healthy cells around it.
The particle is also able to release a drug when activated by a laser.
The idea is still years away from being used in patients, however. Zhang says it could take 25 years between clinical trials and other steps before her research is helping patients.
Photo: The winner of the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology $100,000 individual grand prize, Angela Zhang, shows her work to Eric Spiegel, chief executive officer of Siemens Corp. Photo: Siemens (enlarge photo)
Angela won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award for medicine and health science in 2011 and 2010.
She is a 2010 Siemens Competition Regional Finalist who began her work on this project in 2009 and spent an estimated 1,000 hours on her research. Angela hopes to become a research professor. Her mentor was Dr. Zhen Cheng of Stanford University.
She plays golf and the piano and would like to major in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics.
"Angela created a nanoparticle that is like a Swiss army knife of cancer treatment," said competition judge Dr. Tejal Desai, Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, 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 non-invasive imaging. Her work is an important step in developing new approaches to the therapeutic targeting of tumors via nanotechnology."
In her project, Angela aimed to design a targeted gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with the potential to eradicate cancer stem 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.
"Angela's commitment to the research was truly impressive," said Dr. Desai. "She has a deep understanding of the multitude of disciplines that went into her project, from designing the nanoparticles to showing their efficacy in vivo."
The Siemens Competition
Launched in 1998, the Siemens Competition is the nation's premier science research competition for high school students.
An all-time record of 2,436 students registered to enter the Siemens Competition this year for an unprecedented 1,541 projects submitted.
Three hundred seventeen students were named semifinalists and 96 were named regional finalists, representing 21 states. Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.