Jack Andraka – The Inventor, Cancer Researcher & Young Scientist

Jack Andraka is one such teenager who had emerged as an inventor, cancer researcher, and scientist at a young age.

You are perhaps well aware that teenagers lap up every technological advancement. Yes, they have fresh ideas, creative minds, and a problem-solving attitude.

Jack Andraka is one such teenager who had emerged as an inventor, cancer researcher, and scientist at a young age.

Very few people know that he was a semifinalist of the Broadcom MASTERS™ 2011 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Competition.

Let’s know more about this young scientist and feel inspired! 

Childhood

Jack Andraka was born on January 8, 1997. He was born in Maryland, United States.

While his mother Jane was an anaesthetist, his father Steve was a civil engineer. Both were well aware of the scientific aptitude of their kids.

He got interested in doing science experiments when he was young.

He was curious and often had many questions in his mind. His parents always encouraged him to find all his answers.

Often, they use to help him by buying him books or finding the best videos or pictures to get the answers.

His family also use to give much importance to outdoor activities such as kayaking, river-rafting, etc. 2011

Education

In 2011, Jack Andraka was enrolled in the North County High School, Maryland.

He was hooked to science fair projects in the 6th grade, as in his school, kids were required to do a science project.

His interest in such science fair projects increases manifold when his brother attended the Intel ISEF, and he got a chance to watch the award ceremony.

Soon, he started to dream about becoming an Intel ISEF finalist. So, he visited all the science fairs held at the school, regional and national levels to learn how he could make his presentations better.

After completing high school in 2015, Jack went to Stanford University to do a major in Anthropology. 

In 2018, Jack Andraka was named the 2018 Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

He became entitled to a whopping sum of $30,000 scholarship for graduate study, either in the United States or in another country across the globe, to prepare for a career in public service.

Meanwhile, he also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 2019.

His electrical and electronics engineering thesis was “Paper Biosensor for the Detection of Infectious Diseases and Environmental Contaminants”.

He then opted to do a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and focused on learning big data, optimization, machine learning, and epidemiology.

Work 

Jack Andraka’s career kick-started when he emerged as a winner in the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

He also got the grand prize of $75,000 for his remarkable invention. His invention was an innovative and inexpensive method for detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer at an early stage.

This invention was revolutionary because early detection of cancer means more likelihood of a cure.

He had even filed a patent for his inexpensive sensor in 2012. He got an inspiration to do such an invention when his Uncle died because of pancreatic cancer.

He noticed that many of the tests he undergoes were either very expensive or inaccurate. However, this invention does not come easy as he had to send more than 200 requests to various universities to give him some lab space for his research work.

Finally, Johns Hopkins University gave him the needed space and started his work on inventing a sensor. 

In March 2014, Jack Andraka became a respected member of Dell’s Youth Advisory Board and served the board until January 2017.

However, he started working soon after taking admission to Stanford University in 2016 by joining its Quake Lab as a researcher.

After working for a year, he joined the Demirci Lab at Stanford University.

He started working as an independent researcher under Utkan Demirci, a notable professor of radiology. He developed a paper biosensor that can detect HIV-1.

Within six months, he successfully demonstrated how his paper biosensor can detect not only HIV accurately but can also be used to detect other diseases. 

In Jan 2018, Jack Andraka became a researcher at the Criddle Lab. He developed a biosensor to detect and monitor the outbreak of an infectious disease.

However, he made a giant leap and became the co-lead of a project at the Stanford University School of Medicine in September 2018.

He worked on innovative neural network architecture. For the same, he even partnered with the Quantitative Sciences Unit of the Stanford School of Medicine. 

From 2014 to the next three years, Jack Andraka worked on a water tech Initiative. The aim was to improve easy access to clean drinking water in Tanzania with biosensors and collected data. 

Awards

Jack Andraka received several awards at a young age due to his scientific aptitude and a positive mindset. Here is a list of some of his awards. 

2012- Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Grand Prize

2013-Secured 4th position at the Intel International Science Fair in Chemistry

2014- Jefferson Award

2014-Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award

2015-Received a scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars foundation

2018-Named as the 2018 Truman Scholar.

Till now, Jack had given more than a dozen TEDx talks at various places, including the House of Parliament!

He is continuously speaking about the significance of open access to journals (scientific) and the need for awareness about cancer, especially pancreatic and ovarian.

Being gay, Jack is also a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. He feels the need for their active participation in the STEM field.

Jack is also working towards inspiring other young people like him to become a scientist.

Once a shy child, he now enjoys public speaking and is a renowned author of Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World, in which he had shared his life experiences and struggles, the way he overcame homophobic bullying, and much more.

References

https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2012/11/how-15-year-old-jack-andraka-used-stem-change-world

http://mynamemystory.org/jack-andraka.html

https://impact.empodera.org/en/speaker/jack-andraka/

https://impact.empodera.org/en/speaker/jack-andraka/

https://www.societyforscience.org/blog/winning-the-top-award-at-intel-isef-2012-kicks-off-amazing-year-for-jack-andraka/

https://www.societyforscience.org/blog/winning-the-top-award-at-intel-isef-2012-kicks-off-amazing-year-for-jack-andraka/

https://pointfoundation.org/scholars/jack-andraka/

https://www.sutori.com/story/jack-andraka–xnbHYanhEFMADLfGuMfLrwq7

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jack-andraka-8a052a45

https://www.wsj.com/articles/jack-andrakas-parents-on-raising-a-science-whiz-kid-1446562556

https://news.stanford.edu/2018/04/13/truman-scholar/

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