The second annual Google Science Fair, a science talent competition for kids ages 13 to 18, was held this month in Palo Alto, California. This yearâ€™s winner, 17-year-old Brittany Wenger, wrote a cloud-based computer program that makes breast cancer detection less invasive. She called it the â€œGlobal Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.â€Â Wenger created computer programs coded to think like the human brain and then used them to locate mass malignancy in breast tissue samples.
Traditional methods of finding mass malignancy use a minimally invasive, but painful, biopsy called a fine needle aspirate (FNA). Analyzing tissues collected with this method isnâ€™t always effective and sometimes results in further invasive procedures. Wegner tested her method with 7.6 million trials to see how accurately it would detect cancerous tumors. It succeeded with a 97.4 percent success rate in prediction and 99.1 percent sensitivity to malignancy when analyzing samples collected from FNA. Employing this data to a cloud service could make it possible for doctors to assess tumors without employing more invasive testing.
For winning the competition, Wegner received $50,000, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and one year of mentoring and internship opportunities. As for her future, Wegner said in a recent interview that she plans to major in computer science in college and attend medical school.