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Brilliance Not Age-Related

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - With a friend recently diagnosed with late-stage cancer, a headline caught my attention in the September 17th edition of The Washington Post, “Prize-winning cancer test indicates a bright future.”

To my surprise, the article detailed how Jack Andraka, at 14, began looking for a simple way to detect pancreatic cancer, motivated as I was by someone about whom he cared.

His idea came during his class in Maryland‘s North County High School. He began researching, then writing 200 letters to find a mentor and a lab. After 197 rejections, Anirban Maitra, a professor of pathology and oncology and a top researcher on pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins University responded and Andraka, now 15, developed a test.

It’s been successful in experiments but still needs validation. Valerie Strauss reports in her article, that it did so well that 10th grader Andraka was awarded a $75,000 prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Brilliance isn’t limited necessarily to age or education.