The Thomas Edison of our times . . .
Hello again from everyone at the OM@home blog, a blog about children and young people, written for children and young people . . . .
For young people just like you, about young people who inspire us here at OM HQ.
Young people like Jack Andraka . . . .
Jack is a genius . . .
This is a word that tends to be bandied around a lot and, more often than not, its use isn’t appropriate. In Jack’s case, however, to call him a genius might be understating things a little.
You see, Jack’s achievements have been compared to those of Thomas Edison . . .
Not bad, given that he’s just 16 years old.
Jack admits that his tale is an unusual one and that, all things considered, he might be expected to spend his spare time playing video games, watching movies or joining in on the basketball court.
That he prefers to concentrate all his efforts on his interest in science is impressive. That he has made a breakthrough in the field of cancer detection that has the potential to save innumerable lives the Earth over is beyond breathtaking.
Like most people, cancer has touched Jack’s life, afflicting loved ones and causing great pain. Unlike most people, Jack has decided to do something about it.
‘Some people like playing basketball or other sports but I don’t – I come here [to the lab] and do cancer research,’ he explains. ‘Shouldn’t I be interested in movies or playing video games? Most people ask why a teenager is doing cancer research – I just tell them that I got interested in it because a bunch of my family [members] have been affected by cancer. I don’t think that it’s all that unusual.’
Perhaps, but what is unusual is the success that Jack has experienced in his research . . .
You see, using nothing but the internet (this is, he says, an ‘invaluable resource’, with Google his ‘go-to’ on such things), Jack developed a test for cancer that has prompted those in scientific circles to sit up and take note.
His test – in simple terms, a paper sensor or dipstick – can detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers in their earliest stages. Its value to mankind cannot be underestimated.
Having done all the theory, Jack took his test to 200 experts in the field, although all but one rejected his advances. Unlike the others, Professor Anirban Maitra agreed to help. Together – having put it to the test at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore – the pair have proved that Jack’s test works. The results have been remarkable . . .
You see, Jack’s test is 168 times faster than the current standard, which means that cancer can be caught earlier, increasing the chances of survival. Moreover, it is more than 26,000 times cheaper than existing methods, with each test costing just three cents, which means that it can be accessible and available for everyone.
It’s little surprise, then, that Jack won the Grand Prize at the most recent Intel Science Fair and is considered to have one of the brightest scientific minds around . . .
‘You’re going to hear a lot about Jack in the years to come,’ says Professor Maitra. ‘Think of Thomas Edison and the light bulb. This kid is the Edison of our times. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of light bulbs coming from him’.
Here at OM®, we couldn’t be more inspired. Jack has a gift, for sure. But it is the manner in which he has harnessed it, putting his skills to such good use and for the benefit of others, which impresses us the most. Everyone has a special talent. What matters most is how that talent is used.
To quote Jack, ‘For a teenager who didn’t even know what a pancreas was to detect pancreatic cancer – well, just think what YOU could do.’ We couldn’t agree more . . .