By Jack Andraka

Released : 15/08/2021

Reviewed : 15/07/21

Reviewed by : Linthoingambi Ningthoujam

\” Life is all about finding your passion.It led to a lot of experiences and failures.\”

Jack Andraka\’s story wasn\’t just about a teen innovator , it\’s a story of overcoming depression , homophobic bullying and of finding the resilience to persevere and finding the path of life.

For Jack middle school was hell, his only escape was doing science and kayaking . He was an outsider at school, didn\’t fit in because of his sexuality and bullied him for being a gay.

When he was 13 a close family friend was dying of cancer. Instead of giving in to the despair and bullying, he decided to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. When he researched online about it, he found that one of the biggest problem with the pancreatic cancer wasn\’t the treatment but the detection. So, he decided to find an early detection method, which will also be cheap, sensitive, effective, easy and affordable.

Proteins are good predictors of disease. And there was eight thousand proteins , out of these one protein was the solution for this test. He knew that it could take 100 years, but he didn\’t give up. After gruelling research on internet and scientific journals, he was able to narrow down the eight thousand proteins into about fifty proteins. But the remaining proteins were the toughest, most time consuming and almost no research was available. Halfway through the short list, he came upon \” mesothelium \” , the biomarker of pancreatic, ovarian and lungs cancer.

Next big step was the test. During one of his biology class an idea pop up in his mind as antibodies react only with specific proteins, he could mixed it with carbon nanotubes. And it will react with mesothelin. The reaction would change the electrical properties of the nanotubes and that was measurable.

For about four months he spent working on experimental design and proposal for his theory. Then he sent the proposal to all the doctors who were in a position to accept him. After one month and 192 rejections, a ray of hope came, a reply from Dr. Anirban Maitra of John Hopkins to come for an interview. After the interview he got a place at the lab of Dr Anirban Maitra at John Hopkins.

After seven long gruelling months with lots of failures, on one late night he had a breakthrough. His test had showed a direct correlation between how much protein was in the solution and how much the electrical properties was changing. Its sensitivity was good enough to detect pancreatic cancer using blood or urine.

He entered this project to Hopkins science competition and ISEF . He won all of them.He won 2012\’s Intel\’s Gordon E Moore Award for these projects . He has been invited to meet Hillary and Bill Clinton at a dinner for the Clinton Global Initiative.Later he went to the White House as the guest of Michelle Obama.

His move on to the next project which was to make a small , portable and cheaper version of Raman Spectrometer ( a machine that shoots a powerful laser that can break down almost any object on a chemical level) . After nine months working on it, he realised if he could swap the Raman Spectrometer’s big laser for a laser pointer and it\’s liquid nitrogen – cooled photodetector( which it was to determine the chemical makeup of whatever material is being analysed) with an iPhone camera.He could reduce the cost to 15 dollars and make it he size of a smartphone. This project also entered ISEF .

He\’s still on a quest to know more, to bring effective and affordable solutions. This book is full of fun and simple experiments where we can try at home. Breakthrough is an amazing story and a remainder of why people should listen to young people\’s ideas which could change the world and bring solutions.

For the next project he collaborated with his friend Chloe, they created a plastic filter made from recycled plastic water bottles which can able to monitor water contaminants rapidly , inexpensively and easily.

\” In science, the answer to one problem raised a new question \”

Happy Reading 




















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