16 year old Marshall Zhang has found a promising treatment for the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis and won top awards for his work.
On May 10th Zhang received 1st place in the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BIOTalent Challenge. This award is given every year to the student who places first in the contest by conducting their own research with their mentors.
Zhang is in the 11th grade at Richmond Hills Bayview Secondary school and after taking Advanced Placement Biology in 10th grade he decided that he wanted to do what real scientist did. So he sent letters to different professors asking to work in their labs. After many rejections because he didn’t have enough experience he sent a letter to Dr. Christine Bear who finally said yes.
He used the Canadian SCINet supercomputing network to test two possible drugs that will treat Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes thick sticky mucus to collect in the lungs and other places. Most that are born with it die before they reach their teens. It can be fatal and as of now there is no cure. It occurs most often in white people of North European ancestry.
Zhang took two compounds and tested them in the supercomputing network with promising results. He has high hopes for the future after testing them on two living cells. Of course the results on humans could be negative but he thinks it’s promising that he can be of some help in helping with this awful disease.