Jack Andraka

by Hannah from Riley

Jack Andraka is a teen who will help cure cancer. (Harper Collins)
Jack Andraka is a teen who will help cure cancer. (Harper Collins)

Jack Andraka was just fifteen years old when he came up with the idea of a device to detect the early stages of different cancers, one of which is pancreatic cancer. Andraka had recently lost a family friend when the idea came to him. Jack is still working on his project, Andraka first developed his idea in biology class, he is now only nineteen and working to get his invention off the ground, and has received many awards for his outstanding achievements.

Jack came up with his ground-breaking idea of a cancer test while in a high school biology class. One of the main markers of many cancers is the presence of mesothelin, and while he was in class he learned of antibodies "I thought maybe if I lace mesothelin-specific antibodies into a network of carbon nanotubes I would have a network that reacts only to mesothelin [in a blood sample] and would change its electrical properties based on the amount present." As the mesothelin proteins attach to the antibodies, the gaps between nanotubes widen, weakening the network's conductivity-a signal detectable with a simple ohmmeter (Cossins). Andraka's invention of what is essentially a filter paper is drastically cheaper than the standard test cancer patients go through. The test Andraka came up with can be conducted with a 50 dollar ohmmeter from Home Depot or insert the test paper into any type of diabetic device.

Jack Andraka (Photography by Danielle Levitt)
Jack Andraka (Photography by Danielle Levitt)

After receiving many rejections Andraka was invited to work with Anirban Maitra at Johns Hopkins University. For several months Andraka worked at JHU. He was able to come out with progress, even when he had a few setbacks. Andraka won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, awarding him with 75,000 dollars in scholarship money. Now, at nineteen, Jack's groundbreaking results have earned him international recognition, most notably a 2014 Jefferson Award, the nation's most prestigious public service award, 1st place winner in the 2014 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, the 2012 Intel ISEF Gordon Moore Award, the 2012 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Youth Award, a spot on Advocate Magazine's 2014 40 under 40 list, a fellowship as a National Geographic Explorer, and he's also the 2014 State of Maryland winner of the Stockholm Water Prize. (About Jack Andraka) Andraka is trying to get his work patented and is even working towards getting more funding to continue his research (Upbin).

Jack Andraka has been interested in science and technology his entire life. His father was an engineer and encouraged his sons to think scientifically. In sixth grade Andraka won his first science competition and won second place. He continued to enter competitions in seventh, eighth, and ninth grade, winning gold each year. While in high school Andraka took numerous advanced placement classes. His parents always wanted him to do good in school. When Andraka first was invited to work at JHU his mother would spend hours driving him to and from the university. She believed that the work he was doing was going to really help people. It is hard to believe that someone so young can invent a device that is affordable and more effective than the ones today.

Andraka is proof that you do not have to be old and experienced to improve the world. When given the chance he could be the one to start the end of cancer. First he invents the preemptive test, then the next thing is that cancer is just a small disease that can be cured. People like Jack Andraka will be the ones to help make mankind healthier, and help further medical knowledge. It starts with cancer and soon we have cures for brain tumors, mental illness, and quite possibly death.

Page created on 3/2/2017 12:23:45 PM

Last edited 3/2/2017 12:23:45 PM

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Related Links

The Scientist
Forbes Magazine
Jack Andraka Official Website - This website gives you information about Andraka
The Smithsonian - A brief video about how Andraka created his idea