Student Wins100K in Science Competition for Cancer Particle

Angela Zhang, 17, makes small stride in fight against cancer

Several high school students have been awarded top honors from the Siemens Foundation's annual high school science competition for their science projects. Topics ranged in everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer to motion technology.

The competition comes down to six individual projects and six team projects. The top team prize went to two students, Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee for their research in which they used gaming technology to analyze the motion in walking. The 17-year-olds will share the $100,000 scholarship prize.

The top individual prize went to Angela Zhang, 17, for research she called the "Swiss army knife of cancer treatments" because of the accuracy in which it targets cancer tumors.

According to AP, Zhang designed a particle that improves on current cancer treatments because it delivers a drug directly to tumor cells without affecting non-cancerous cells around it.

She will receive a $100,000 scholarship for herself. AP reports that Zhang, a senior of Monta Vista High School in California was inspired to pursue the project by her great grandfather’s struggle with liver cancer and her grandfather’s death from lung cancer.

She has said, "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?'"

The team scholarship winners got their inspiration from motion detecting video game technology used in dance and fitness games. The seniors from Oak Ridge High hope their software, which analyzes the way a person walks, can ultimately be used to help those who wear prosthetic limbs improve their walk. Many who wear prosthetic limbs have to go to labs for that kind of technology, but this project aims to bring medical help into living rooms.

This is the thirteenth year for The Siemens Foundation’s annual science competition. The advancements are years from being tried on actual patients.