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Michigan Teen Wins $100,000 – Could His Research Lead to a Cure For Breast Cancer?

Michigan teen wins top prize, leads researchers toward cancer treatment
Detroit Free Press

Nithin Tumma, a 17-year-old high school senior from Port Huron, Michigan has won first prize in the ‘Intel Science Talent Search’ competition earlier this week. Tumma’s prize? $100,000!

The project that lead Tumma to beating out 1,838 other high school students could bring researchers closer to a cure for breast cancer.

Tumma’s research investigates the molecular pathways and the proteins that signal cell behavior in cancer, which could eventually lead to less-toxic and better-targeted cancer therapy.

Dr. Andy Yeager from the University of Arizona Cancer Center was the head judge for the competition, and called Tummas work, “an absolutely elegant project” assimilating cancer cells to the pedals in a vehicle. Yeager explained Tumma’s work as figuring out how to let up on one pdeal, while stepping down on the other.

“I’ve been doing this for a number of years,” said Yeager, who has been head of the judging committee since 1999 and on the panel since 1986. “This ranks among the highest (projects) in terms of sophistication.”

This is probably not the last you’ll hear from Nithin Tumma. Others who have taken home the top prize in the yearly competition have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.

“I got lucky, I guess,” said Nithin, who thought when it got down to just two awards left Tuesday night that he wouldn’t be taking a top prize.

Tumma plans to use the prize money for college tuition, and plans to study computational biology.

What had you accomplished when you were 17?

[Detroit Free Press]

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