The 16-Year-Old Who Changed Medicine Is Out to Change It Again

Photo Credit: TEDxNijmegenAt 16 years old, Jack Andraka is already a superstar in the field of science. Earlier this year, he won Intel’s prestigious Gordon E. Moore Award, when he created a groundbreaking testing method that can detect pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages. His work is expected to save thousands of lives.

And in the few short months since then, Andraka has already begun work on his next invention—a handheld device that he hopes will have the ability to scan the human body, read vital signs and detect any disease instantly.

While it sounds straight off the set of Star Trek, Andraka’s tricorder is part of a global science competition started by the XPRIZE foundation. The challenge is to create a mobile device that can diagnose 15 diseases across 30 patients, and at stake is a $10 million prize.

But on this project, Andraka isn’t working alone. He teamed up with two other Intel finalists to create what they call “Generation Z.” So far, they’re the only team made up entirely of kids. Despite being up against other teams like the one from Scanadu—a startup based in the NASA Ames Rsearch Center—Andraka is looking forward to exploring the challenge with kids his own age.

“I really enjoy big challenges and figured that it would be fun to collaborate with a group of teens to work on this prize,” he tells TakePart. “I meet such interesting teens at science competitions, and so we are going to work on this problem together. We may not succeed, but we are going to learn a lot and also learn how to work better in a team on a big project. Hopefully, we will be able to be productive and move the idea forward.”

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