What pushed teenager Jack Andraka to come up with an inexpensive way to test for pancreatic cancer at an early stage? Jack shares that it was the pain of losing a beloved family friend to the illness. Wanting to make sense of it all, Jack went online to find answers, only to be shocked by the statistics.
“Over 85% of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than 2% chance of survival,” reason being the test is expensive, inaccurate, and had not been improved upon for 60 years. As such, doctors are unlikely to send patients to be tested unless they highly suspect an occurrence.
Jack wanted to come up with an inexpensive, simple, rapid, sensitive, and minimally invasive blood test for pancreatic cancer, “I went online to a teenager’s two best friends -Wikipedia and Google is every teenager’s friend,” and identified a protein that acts as a bio-marker for that cancer at an early stage.
Thereafter, he worked hard to get his plan across to a professor at John Hopkins University, landing himself in a laboratory where he spent hours working on a prototype for the test. This was no easy task for the young scientist. Academics challenged his ideas. Things in the lab did not turn out as he planned. But Jack persevered and finally succeeded.
Watch this video with your child to discuss about how Jack’s pain spurred him on to pursue a greater goal. Talk about how much hard work Jack had to put in. Encourage your child to use the Internet as a resource. Identify a topic that he would like to find out more about. Research on it together.
“…through the Internet, everything is possible…It’s a neutral space…what you look like, age, or gender, it doesn’t matter, it’s just your ideas that count.” -Jack Andraka