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curing cancer


Angela Zhang’s Research Paper Title is: Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells


Angela Zhang received a  $100,000 award from Siemens Foundation for her work on finding possible ways of curing cancer patients. She is a student of: Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California



MENTOR:  Dr. Zhen Cheng, Stanford University

“I was surprised by the survival rate of patients who had undergone current cancer therapy.”

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and driving tumor growth yet are often resistant to current cancer therapies.  In her research, Angela Zhang aimed to design a CSC-targeted, gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle with a potential to eradicate these cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor.  The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging.  This nanosystem could potentially help overcome cancer resistance, minimize undesirable side effects, and allow for real-time monitoring of treatment efficacy.

Angela, a senior, is interested in nanomedicine and molecular imaging because they allow her “to transform my interests in physics, chemistry, and biology into solutions for current health problems.”  She won the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2011 Grand Award and the ISEF 2010 Grand Award (both for medicine and health science), and a trip to attend the Taiwan International Science Fair awarded by the National Taiwan Science Education Center.  Angela planned and executed a fundraiser that raised over $5,000 a year for the Monta Vista Interact International Night and has participated in the Jade Ribbon Youth Council to raise awareness about Hepatitis B.  She plays golf and the piano and would like to major in chemical or biomedical engineering or physics.  She is a 2010 Siemens Competition Regional Finalist who put in 1,000 hours on her current project.  Angela hopes to become a research professor.

The second place in the Siemens Foundation  competition was won by:


Brian Kim’s research paper is in the Mathematics field

Award: $50,000

Stuyvesant High School, New York, New York

Research Paper Title: Packing and Covering  with Centrally  Symmetric  Disks – Mathematics


MENTOR:  Professor Dan P. Ismailescu, Hofstra University

“Mathematics is ubiquitous: car-builders use the heat flow equation to calculate how engine parts will respond to heat, while bridge-builders calculate the curve that will ideally spread the downward force of a heavy truck.”

For a millennia, people have been interested in how we can efficiently pack more objects into an area. Brian Kim examined packing and covering geometric shapes, a topic that he says “could be understood and appreciated with a basic geometry background, but required power tools, particularly vectors, with which to make new ground.”  He was attracted to the idea of arranging shapes in space because this problem has been studied extensively by mathematicians.  “The topic is simple yet at the same time extremely complex.”

Brian first recognized his passion for math after joining his school’s math team.  “There are no ‘textbook problems’ or solutions in math team, as ingenuity and cleverness are constant necessities.”  In his spare time, the high school senior enjoys running, golf, handball and playing the guitar, piano and trombone.  He would like to major in applied mathematics or computer science and dreams of becoming a professor of mathematics at MIT. 


Find out more about the research papers on the Siemens Foundation website.



High school student Angela Zhang from Cupertino, California, has found a possible cure for cancer and she has been rewarded with a scholarship for $100,000.

Angela Zhang, 17, a first generation Chinese schoolgirl, who is learning to drive, seems in many ways an average Californian teenager, CBS News reported.

When Angela Zhang shared a project she had created in her spare time with her Monta Vista High School, chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta it was the beginning of an extraordinary sequence of events.

The project, an advanced research paper detailing a method for curing cancer, was beyond her teacher.

“Cure for cancer – a high school student,” Kavita Gupta told CBS.

“It’s just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this.”

Angela Zhang had always been precocious. As a freshman, she read doctorate level papers on bio-engineering.

In sophomore year she’d talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year she was doing her own research on the project.

“I just thought, <<Why not? What is there to lose?>>” said Angela Zhang.

“At first it was a little bit overwhelming,” she said, “but I found that it almost became like a puzzle, being able to decode something.”

High school student Angela Zhang from Cupertino has found a possible cure for cancer and she has been rewarded with a scholarship for $100,000

High school student Angela Zhang from Cupertino has found a possible cure for cancer and she has been rewarded with a scholarship for $100,000

Angela Zhang’s idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles. These nanoparticles would then fasten themselves to cancer cells and show up on an MRI allowing doctors to exactly where tumors are.

An infrared light aimed at the tumours would melt the polymer and release the medicine, killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

When tested on mice the tumours almost completely disappeared. Although it will be years before scientist will be able to run tests on humans, the results do seem promising.

Meanwhile Angela Zhang’s paper won her the national Siemens science contest, netting the teen $100,000.

“This is a Cinderella moment for a science nerd like me,” Angela Zhang told the Mercury News.

“I’m excited to learn just everything possible,” she said.

“Everything in the sciences – biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, even computer science – to make new innovations possible.”