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NORTH CAROLINA TEEN BAGS INTEL SCIENCE TALENT AWARD

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April 2008
NORTH CAROLINA TEEN BAGS INTEL SCIENCE TALENT AWARD

Shivani Sud, in a way, had been preparing for the Intel Science Talent Award—dubbed the Junior Nobel—for eleven years. When she was six, one of her close relatives was diagnosed with cancer, causing turmoil in her family. The relative’s brain tumor turned out to be benign, fortunately, but this crisis made an impression on young Shivani, who developed an abiding interest in cancer research. Now a 17-year-old senior at Charles E. Jordan High School in Durham, North Carolina, she won the top award, worth $100,000, in the 2008 Intel Science Talent Search. Focusing on stage II colon cancer, Shivani constructed a 50-gene model that “analyzed the specific molecular signatures of tumors.” This information can be used to diagnose, with a fair degree of accuracy, the recurrence of colon cancer and propose suitable treatment options.

Shivani’s achievement lay in her ability to shift the emphasis away from visual information, which is the standard method for diagnosis. For her bioinformatics and genomics project, Shivani combined clinical data with the data sets of 125 cancer patients in order to chart survival curves and single out the appropriate drugs. She’s the only Indian American among the top 10 winners. Seven other Indian Americans, drawn from 1600 students, made it to the final 40 this year. An all-rounder, whose interests extend to modern and classical Indian dance, Shivani stood first in her class of 358. Also recently, Shivani won an $80,000 Morehead-Cain scholarship to study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a $50,000 grant from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. She plans to pursue both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in cancer research.


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