A Cupertino high school student has been named a bio-genius for her potentially groundbreaking work studying breast cancer.
Natalie Ng, 17, is a junior at Monta Vista High School. Earlier this week, she was in Chicago taking home top honors in the prestigious BioGENEius Challenge, a competition for high school students recognizing outstanding biotech research.
Her project was to design a diagnostic tool for breast cancer.
"I used micro RNAs to create prognostic signatures," Ng said. "The goal of this was to allow doctors to identify which patients are going to have recurrence, or metastases, of cancer."
This self-starting teen pursued her love of science during an internship at Stanford.
"This is quite unusual for not only high school students, probably even for graduate students," said Cheng-Zheng Chen, an assistant professor at Stanford School of Medicine.
Chen, who supervised Ng in the lab, said currently most breast cancer patients undergo surgery followed by chemo and/or radiation. He said her work could one day help doctors figure out which patients don't actually need chemo or radiation.
"That's very big because chemo and radiation are quite damaging and only 20-30 percent actually need that type of treatment," Chen said.
It's many steps away, but if it were to work out, Chen said the end result would be not only will patients suffer less, but it could also reduce the cost of medical expenses.
Ng took home $7,500 for her win and she plans to save it for college and hopes to attend Stanford.
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