Angela Zhang, 17, Wins $100K Science Prize for Cancer Research

For her design of a cancer-fighting technique that targets tumors and leaves healthy tissue intact, Angela Zhang, of California, has won the grand prize in the Siemens Competition in Math Science and Technology, a $100,000 scholarship. She is all of 17 years old.

Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, took top individual honors for research that led to what she called a “Swiss army knife of cancer treatments” a gold-iron oxide nanoparticle that can precisely deliver chemotherapy to cancer tumors but not the surrounding healthy tissue, according to the Wall Street Journal and Mercury News.

“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,” competition judge Tejal Desai, a professor at UC San Francisco, said in a statement. “Her work is an important step in developing new approaches to the therapeutic targeting of tumors via nanotechnology.”

According to Desai, it could be as little as 25 years between clinical trials and other steps before her Zhang’s research is helping patients.

“This is a Cinderella moment for a science nerd like me,” Angela told the Mercury News.

Other recognition Angela Zhang – who began her work on this project in 2009 spending an estimated 1,000 hours on research – has received include the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award for medicine and health science in 2010 and 2011.

Becoming a research professor is her goal.

via Mercury News