Heman Bekele, a 14-year-old from Annandale, Virginia, was just named “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The distinction comes along with winning 3M’s annual Young Scientist Challenge and $25,000 dollars.
The 2023 Young Scientist Challenge Finalists
The top 10 2023 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists include:
- Heman Bekele, Annandale, Va., Frost Middle School, Fairfax County Public Schools (overall winner)
- Anisha Dhoot, Portland, Ore., Stoller Middle School, Beaverton School District 48J
- Ishaan Iyer, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Perdew Elementary, Etiwanda School District
- Sean Jiang, Baltimore, Md., Gilman School, Private
- Shripriya Kalbhavi, San Jose, Calif., Joaquin Miller Middle School, Cupertino Union School District
- Annie Katz, New Rochelle, N.Y., Leffell School, Private
- Anish Kosaraju, Saratoga, Calif., The Harker School, Campbell Union High School District
- Adhip Maitra, Oviedo, Fla., Jackson Heights Middle School, Seminole County School District
- Shruti Sivaraman, Austin, Texas, Canyon Vista Middle School, Round Rock Independent School District
- Sarah Wang, Andover, Mass., The Pike School, Independent
More about the finalists is available on YoungScientistLab.com.
The Clean Winner
Bekele combined salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin, three common skin care molecules, into a “cancer-fighting” soap. All three are keratolytic agents that slowly reactivate dendritic cells, which help protect the skin and boost immune responses. Cosmetically, they also help remove the dead, outer skin layer and bring younger skin cells to the surface.
“Cancer-Fighting” is in Quotes
“I know that the average price of skin cancer treatment in the U.S. alone is almost $40,000, but my bar of soap only costs $8.50 to create, and it can replicate the same effects as something that people would pay thousands and thousands of dollars to try to get,” Bekele said.
Keratolytic drugs have been used to treat psoriasis and have been shown to decrease solar keratosis, a precursor to some skin cancers, aka sun damage. However, the soap cannot be recommended to treat frank skin cancer. More research is needed to know the role the soap may play.
Even proven topical chemotherapy agents like 5-Fluorouracil and Imiquimod are only indicated for very superficial skin cancers and require close professional follow-up to determine effectiveness. Deeper skin cancers still require surgical excision. If you have squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and especially melanoma, seek an experienced, board certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon for definitive treatment.
On the other hand, if a $10 bar of soap can eliminate even a small percentage of skin cancers, the potential savings in cost, time and anxiety is well worth it.
Congratulations Heman Bekele
Congratulations Heman Bekele, can’t wait to see what you do after high school. Electrical Engineering is a great major, but I am a little biased as it was my major at UC Davis before entering medical school.Previous Post Next Post