Real Leaders

13-Year-Old Develops Cancer Treatment

Discovery Education and 3M have named 13-year-old Rishab Jain (above) the winner of the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating an algorithm to make pancreatic cancer treatment more effective.

Jain’s algorithm uses artificial intelligence to accurately locate and track the pancreas in real-time during MRI radiotherapy.

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Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to An inherent challenge of radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer resides in targeting the pancreas itself. Firstly, it is often obscured by the stomach or other nearby organs, making the pancreas difficult to locate and second, breathing and other anatomical changes may cause the pancreas to move around in the abdominal area. As a result, radiotherapy treatment can inadvertently target and impact healthy cells.

Jain developed and tested his algorithm using images of the human digestive system, and found it could correctly detect the pancreas with a 98.9 percent success rate. The innovation aims to improve accuracy, reduce invasiveness and increase efficiency during treatment, resulting in better quality of life and chance for survival among patients.

A seventh-grader at Stoller Middle School in Portland, Oregon, Jain competed alongside nine other finalists during a live competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. He was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” and received a $25,000 prize.

During the summer, the finalists had the exclusive opportunity to work with 3M scientists to develop their innovations as part of a unique mentorship program. Jain was paired with Dr. Döne Demirgöz, a 3M corporate supply chain, product development and research expert who takes innovations developed in 3M labs and brings them to the marketplace.

The finalists presented their inventions to an esteemed panel of scientists and leaders from both Discovery Education and 3M. In addition, they competed in two other challenges that combined multiple 3M technologies to solve a real-world problem.

“All of the finalists for America’s Top Young Scientist embody the same curiosity, creativity, and passion that 3M uses when we apply science to life,” said Paul Keel, senior vice president, business development and marketing-sales, 3M. “These talented young men and women are just beginning their lives as scientists. I’m excited by the endless possibilities that await each of them. We wish them all the joy and success that comes from a lifelong journey of exploration.”

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