For A World Without Cancer by Jack Andraka (Full Transcript)

What I could do is I could put an antibody in this network such that would react specifically to the mesothelin. Then, also I would change its electrical properties based on the amount of mesothelin, enough so that I could measure it with the $50 Home Depot ohmmeter. So, pretty easy.

And just as I had this epiphany, my biology teacher storms up to me, because she spots me reading this article, snatches it out of my hand, because I was supposed to be writing an essay, then, storms off and gives me a lecture.

After class, I finally convinced her after a huge lecture on how I should respect her in her class — I finally got my article back because that’s all I really wanted from her.

So then, what I did is I began researching this promising idea. Then, I needed a lab space because you can’t do cancer research on your kitchen countertop.

So basically, what I did is I wrote up a budget, a timeline, a procedure, and a materials list so all the professors I emailed knew that I meant business.

So, then, what happened is I emailed 200 different professors at the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University. Basically, anyone who had anything to do with pancreatic cancer. Then, I was kind of expecting to sit back and wait for positive emails to flow in and I would get a pick and choose.

Then, reality took place.

Over the course of a month, I got 199 email rejections. One of them went as far as to systematically pop a hole in each part of my procedure. So, it was a bit depressing.

But, there was one lukewarm maybe professor. I finally tracked him down, after 3 months, nailed down an interview. I go in with my knowledge of 500 plus journal articles I have read. And we start the interrogation.

Because what happens is over the course of this hour long interview he calls in more and more experts, trying to pop holes in my solution. And I sit through all of it and I answer all of his questions. I guessed on a few of them.

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But, the interrogation paid off. I got the lab space I needed.

Then, I started on a 7 month long journey in order to finally find the solution. It seemed at first nothing was working. Everything was really screwed up and there were millions of holes in my procedure.

And over the course of 7 months, I slowly, painstakingly filled each and every one of those. At the end, I ended up with the paper sensor that could detect a 100% of all pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers.

But, I’ve learned a really important lesson over the course of my journey. What I’ve learned is that through the Internet, anything is possible. Theories can be shared and you don’t have to be a professor with multiple degrees to have your ideas valued.

And regardless of your gender, your age, your ethnicity, regardless of anything, it’s just your ideas that count.

And to me, that’s all that really matters.

So “Redefining relevance” for me is looking for new ways to use the Internet. We really don’t want to see your duckface pictures.

Instead, you could be changing the world with the Internet. You could help detect pancreatic cancer. So, if I could detect pancreatic cancer, just imagine what you could do.

Thank you.

 

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