17-Year-Old Talks About Creating Potential Cancer Cure In Her Spare Time (Video)

Angela Zhang, a high school senior from Cupertino, California, seems like your typical 17-year-old. She’s just learning to drive, and focusing on college applications to Stanford and Harvard. And in December, she won $100,000 dollars in the prestigious national Siemens competition for research that could help cure cancer.

In case you missed Care2’s initial post about Zhang’s win, here’s what her research involves. The proposed treatment would involve cancer medication mixed into a polymer, which is then attached to a nanoparticle. The nanoparticles would attach to the tumor, where they could be easily detected on an MRI, allowing doctors to identify its location. Targeting the tumor with infrared light would melt the polymer and release the medication, directly targeting the cancer cells, but leaving surrounding healthy tissue intact. The process has almost completely eradicated tumors in mice, but it remains to be seen if it will work in humans.

This is how a Siemens judge characterized the system in a press release announcing the winners of the competition:

“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.”

What’s really amazing about this is the fact that Zhang researched everything in her spare time. In 9th grade, she started reading bio-engineering research – papers written on a doctorate level. After that, she managed to talk her way into a Stanford lab, and eventually began doing her own, original research in her junior year. The research that went into her paper took an estimated 1,000 hours total.

In this interview with CBS News, Angela talks about her research:

Congratulations to Angela for her amazing achievement – we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this brilliant young scientist!


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Photo credit: fotosinteresantes


Sheri K.
Sheri K5 years ago

This is awesome!! Keep going on the research and never stop. Maybe one day there will be a 100% way to cure cancer.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse5 years ago

Let's hope something comes of this. You never know when "it" will be discovered! Congratulations, you deserve it!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim5 years ago

Wow. I hope it has good effects on humans.

jessy b.
Jessica B5 years ago

yes, we need more women in science! hand that girl a lifetime scholarship!!

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago

Honey, you'll have to battle big Pharma. Be prepared!

Irene P.
Irene P5 years ago

Brilliant idea. Why have'nt the big companies figured this out yet? MONEY!!! Their making hand over fist while SO many people are dying!!! Greed, sad but true. Great job, Angela!!!! Keep up the good work. Can't wait to see what you figure out next!! You can truly help spare lives with all your knowledge!!!

New G.
W. C5 years ago

Thank you.

Despina V.
Despina Vekris5 years ago


Dent H.
Dent H5 years ago

What a wonderful story about youth and their way of seeing things. This young lady is something. I wonder where she came up with the knowledge for her idea. Maybe the science and chemistry classes are more advance now-a-days. We didn't know about nano particles when I was in high school. I hope this is one in hundreds she helps to develop in her life time. Now we need to see someone with her savoy become our next president!

Shailja M.
Shailja Mukhtyar5 years ago

simple concept, used more & more, w/ newer selective meds. Kudos to the younger generation, not yet tainted by pharma & their bonuses for covering up of useful solutions to chronic conditions...