You Don’t Know Jack — meet 16-year-old cancer researcher Jack Andraka

We totally love this new mini-documentary about superstar TEDx (and TED) speaker Jack Andraka, the teenage wonder who discovered a new method to detect pancreatic cancer that is 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive, and over 400 times more sensitive than the typical means of pancreatic cancer detection — all before he even graduated high school. Watch it and be hopeful for the future.

And for more reason to build your faith in humanity (and young people in general), check our playlist of talks from amazing kids and get pumped for TEDxYouthDay this Saturday and Sunday — TEDx’s tribute to youth-driven ideas and inspiration.

5 TEDx Talks from kids who are probably smarter than you

You’re smart. Possibly even brilliant. But we’re willing to bet that you’ve got nothing on these kids. (Believe us, we don’t either.)

See, these kids rule. They’re developing mathematical theories before they hit puberty, teaching computers to diagnose breast cancer, analyzing air pollutants, and finding ways to prevent carcinogens forming in grilled chicken. Because what else would you do in grade school?

So to give us all a little hope for the future — 5 TEDx talks from kids who are way smarter than the rest of us:

1. The 10-year-old Princeton student / astrophysicist: Jacob Barnett 

At age two, boy genius Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with autism, and doctors told his parents he may never talk or learn. By age nine, not only could he talk and learn, he had already built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein’s theory of relativity. He’s funny and boisterous and totally freaking brilliant.

2. The girl who taught a computer to diagnose breast cancer … in middle school: Brittany Wenger

When most of us were cutting out pictures from magazines or stressing about soccer team tryouts, teen wunderkind Brittany Wegner was teaching a computer to diagnose breast cancer. That impressive feat required 600 hours of coding and 7.6 million trials, and has the potential to save millions of lives. So…NBD, really.

3. iPhone app developer … and 6th grader: Thomas Suarez

Most 12-year-olds love playing video games, but Thomas Suarez went a step beyond. He taught himself how to create them. After developing popular iPhone apps like “Bustin Jeiber,” a whack-a-mole game, Thomas is now using his skills to help other kids learn to become developers — that is, when he’s not hanging out with MakerBot co-founder and TED Fellow Bre Pettis.

4. The high school student who created a new way to detect cancer … before he could vote: Jack Andraka

While other kids were struggling to memorize the periodic table or master the structure of DNA, Jack Andraka was busy isolating proteins, reading research papers, and, you know, developing a test to detect pancreatic cancer: one that takes only 3 cents to run and runs at a nearly 100% accuracy rate. Kinda impressive, we think.    .

5. Three girls who fight carcinogens, asthma, and chemotherapy resistance in their free time: Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose, Naomi Shah 

Here’s a trio of science superstars for you: Lauren Hodge discovered how crafty cooking can stop carcinogenic compounds forming in grilled chicken; Shree Bose spent 12 years researching how cancer patients develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs; and Naomi Shah discovered new ways to approach asthma after analyzing indoor air pollutants, air quality, and lung health. Isn’t that what everyone does in their free time?


When a patient comes and has an MRI scan and there’s abnormality, you can see that there’s a brain tumor there, but you can’t see where it begins and where it ends … Unfortunately, it doesn’t get that much easier when you get into the operating room. [Surgeons] operate with white light, using their eyes, their thumbs, their fingers, to figure out what’s cancer and what’s brain … [A surgeon] came to me and he said, “Jim, you and your team need to find a way to make these cancer cells light up so we can see them while we’re operating.” We did that.We developed a molecule that [we] inject into the bloodstream: it travels around the body; it finds the cancer cells; and it inserts a little molecular flashlight into the cancer cells and makes them glow so that surgeons can see them while they’re operating…
[Later] we learned that this technology, that this tumor paint that we had invented, was about 100,000 times more sensitive than the MRI scans that we use. And that the surgeons could use it in real time, that it isn’t just a static picture hanging on the wall that was taken two or three days or two or three weeks before surgery…
30% of women with breast cancer find out that where the surgeon stopped cutting, there are still cancer cells and that they probably need to have more surgery done. And, unfortunately, they get this information 7-10 days after they’re in the operating room. That is not fair, and that can’t be the way we operate 10 years from now.

—From Dr. Jim Olson’s TEDxSeattle talk, "Making tumors glow to stop cancer," in which he explains the experimental “tumor paint” he and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have developed using the bioluminescence of scorpions. Watch Jim’s whole talk below:

(Above — an example of tumor paint from Jim’s talk)

When a patient comes and has an MRI scan and there’s abnormality, you can see that there’s a brain tumor there, but you can’t see where it begins and where it ends … Unfortunately, it doesn’t get that much easier when you get into the operating room. [Surgeons] operate with white light, using their eyes, their thumbs, their fingers, to figure out what’s cancer and what’s brain … [A surgeon] came to me and he said, “Jim, you and your team need to find a way to make these cancer cells light up so we can see them while we’re operating.”

We did that.

We developed a molecule that [we] inject into the bloodstream: it travels around the body; it finds the cancer cells; and it inserts a little molecular flashlight into the cancer cells and makes them glow so that surgeons can see them while they’re operating

[Later] we learned that this technology, that this tumor paint that we had invented, was about 100,000 times more sensitive than the MRI scans that we use. And that the surgeons could use it in real time, that it isn’t just a static picture hanging on the wall that was taken two or three days or two or three weeks before surgery…

30% of women with breast cancer find out that where the surgeon stopped cutting, there are still cancer cells and that they probably need to have more surgery done. And, unfortunately, they get this information 7-10 days after they’re in the operating room. That is not fair, and that can’t be the way we operate 10 years from now.

—From Dr. Jim Olson’s TEDxSeattle talk, "Making tumors glow to stop cancer," in which he explains the experimental “tumor paint” he and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have developed using the bioluminescence of scorpions. Watch Jim’s whole talk below:

(Above — an example of tumor paint from Jim’s talk)

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kqedscience:

Teen Develops Computer Algorithm to Diagnose Leukemia
“Brittany Wenger isn’t your average high-school senior: She taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia.
The 18-year-old student from Sarasota, Fla. built a custom, cloud-based “artificial neural network” to find patterns in genetic expression profiles to diagnose patients with an aggressive form of cancer called mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL). Simply put, this means Wenger taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia by creating a diagnostic tool for doctors to use.”

Brittany is also a TEDx speaker! She spoke at TEDxCERN this May, and TEDxWomen in 2012.See our coverage of TEDxCERN here, and — below — watch Brittany’s TEDxWomen talk about Cloud4Cancer, a computer program she designed to diagnose breast cancer more accurately and less invasively.

kqedscience:

Teen Develops Computer Algorithm to Diagnose Leukemia

Brittany Wenger isn’t your average high-school senior: She taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia.

The 18-year-old student from Sarasota, Fla. built a custom, cloud-based “artificial neural network” to find patterns in genetic expression profiles to diagnose patients with an aggressive form of cancer called mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL). Simply put, this means Wenger taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia by creating a diagnostic tool for doctors to use.”

Brittany is also a TEDx speaker! She spoke at TEDxCERN this May, and TEDxWomen in 2012.

See our coverage of TEDxCERN here, and — below — watch Brittany’s TEDxWomen talk about Cloud4Cancer, a computer program she designed to diagnose breast cancer more accurately and less invasively.