$100,000 Prize for 17-Year-Old Cancer Researcher

Sometimes amazing developments in cancer research come from state-of-the-art medical research facilities and sometimes they come from more unexpected places, like Cuba or a high school student. This week, the Siemens Foundation and George Washington University announced that 17-year old Angela Zhang won the $100,000 grand prize in the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology for her innovative cancer research.

Angela Zhang is a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. She won the prize for her design of image-guided, photo-thermal controlled drug releasing multifunctional nanosystem for the treatment of cancer stem cells. Zhang has spent more than 1000 hours researching and developing her nanoparticle since 2009.

The Siemens Foundation announcement of the prize explains more about her work:

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.

Zhang’s nanoparticle is being heralded as the “Swiss army knife of cancer treatment”, according to Dr. Tejal Desai, one of the competition’s judges.

In addition to Zhang’s individual prize, there was also a team prize of $100,000 given to Ziyuan Liu and Cassee Cain for their work on human walking patterns. Other finalist individuals and teams won scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for work in mathematics, chemistry, biology, astrophysics, biochemistry, and bioengineering.

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Photo credit: fotosinteresantes on flickr

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Shirley Townsend
Shirley T.3 years ago

Amazing and wonderful! This kid did it on her own. She comes across as a normal kid but what inspires her? She decided to undertake this on her own. Her own high school science teacher cannot understand the paper she wrote. It always takes looking at things in a different way and this young woman does. Hats off to her.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M.3 years ago


Tim O'Neill
Past Member 3 years ago

Good work.

Jessica Cooper
Jessica Cooper3 years ago

Amazing achievement by a High School student (and one that is local to me, score!). Imagine what she'll be able to do with full grant backing someday.

Paulo B.
Paulo B.3 years ago

PARABÈNS por seu empenho e determinação! continue esse trabalho em beneficio de seus semelhantes.

Elvina Andersson
Elvina A.3 years ago

Congrats!!! :)

Naomi M.
Naomi Miskimins3 years ago

Awesome. Congrats to Angela

Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

Good job! Bravo! Congratulations! The more people we have working to eradicate that horrible disease the better. Who knows? We may be reading about the person that finally finds the cure. Hope springs eternal.

Cynthia Blais
cynthia B.3 years ago

Amazing Bravo to our youth

Despina V.
Despina Vekris3 years ago

Bravo,keep up the good work