Like each year, Time Magazine is out with its latest list of most influential people of 2018. While this list includes people from all spheres of life, there is also one section that features teens, whose noteworthy contributions in their respective fields inspires youngsters from across the world.
However, this year’s list will be even more special for India as three Indian-origin students have been featured by the American magazine, in recognition of the remarkable vision these youngsters have displayed through their work.
Youngest among the three is Rishabh Jain, an eighth-grader from Oregon in USA, who has developed a software tool that could possibly cure pancreatic cancer. The need to study the area had arisen because of the generic treatment of killing carcinogenic cells for all types of cancer.
While it may have worked for others, applying the same for pancreatic cancer was proving difficult as the organ moves around and poses radiation risks to other healthy organs.
To solve this problem, Rishabh came up with an algorithm that could help doctors zero in on the pancreas more accurately and improve treatments. His pioneering work went on to clinch the $25,000 top prize at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in October.
At present, the 14-year-old is on a mission to find hospitals and physician partners who could help him run a clinical trial to continue testing.
“I’ve gotten to see how doctors can make an immediate difference in people’s lives so I want to continue pursuing that,” he said to Time.
For Kavya Kopparapu, it had been the shocking reality of the plateauing rates of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, over the last 30 years.
“I thought, Why is that? We have so much innovation that it didn’t make sense that we hadn’t gotten better,” the 18-year-old freshman from Harvard University said.
She then set out to develop a deep-learning computer system that can scan slides of tissue from brain cancer patients looking for differences in density, color, texture and cellular alignment. The objective had been to develop targeted therapies that are also unique to the person.
What is even more awesome is that her system has been awarded a provisional patent, and this year, she hopes to begin clinical tests in collaboration with a neuropathologist at Georgetown University.
On the other hand, the only goal of British-Indian Amika George is to end ‘period poverty’ and also to convince policymakers to fund the distribution of menstrual products to girls and women who can’t afford them.
“It really upset me that many girls in the UK were routinely missing school during their periods because they couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. The government knew this was happening on their watch, but they were refusing to find a solution,” the 19-year-old told the magazine.
Launching the #FreePeriods campaign, she went on to gather nearly 200,000 signatures on her petition.
Her movement eventually garnered the support of over a dozen policymakers in the UK, spurring the government to allocate funds to the cause for the first time.
But the young woman states that she is only getting started. “We can’t trust our policymakers to take action on issues that seem so obvious to us. If we want to see change, it falls on us to create that change,” she added.
It is inspiring to see such young and ignited minds dedicating their time and resources for socially relevant causes. Kudos to these teens! We are sure they’ll go a long way.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)