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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Letter For Angela Zhang

Dear Angela,

When I heard the news that you, at your young, sprite-filled age of 17, have just created a cancer-killing nanoparticle, a flood, no, a torrent of emotions came rushing in. A heady mixture, for sure, but know one thing: I am in awe of what you have just accomplished.

(Photo courtesy of

17 seems like a long time ago, for me, anyway. But what I do remember from my 17 was:

(1) I tried out smoking for the first time, and stayed with it for years.
(2) I was present in my classes only in the physical sense.
(3) I was more excited about the possibilities of a life outside of school.

Years later, I am seeing the same thing repeated in this generation's 17's, in a different context. There seems to be an inordinate obsession with fame, regardless of what one has achieved intellectually, physically, socially. It doesn't matter, as long as you're famous. So you see all the gyrating onscreen, on national television, by kids who should be burying their noses in mounds of textbooks, or teenagers getting into fights just so the "local media" will get a whiff of their "event".

Yes, you may be a genius. (Which means you are in the minority in a statistical sense, and only in that sense.) But beyond that, you have shown me, and everyone else, what single-mindedness, dedication and passion can do, how it can be utilized, and funneled into something that potentially has the chance to change the course of cancer treatment - and humanity - forever. And you're only 17 - I can't imagine what other things you will continue to develop and create over the course of a lifetime that is singularly focused on honing what you have been gifted with.

I salute you, and wish you all the support that is possible to continue doing what you obviously derive great pleasure from. I can't imagine how incessantly proud your parents must be of you - we're not even related and already, I cannot help but feel pride in what you have achieved. Score one for humanity against cancer.

Shine a light, both for our teenagers, and for everyone else in this world. (How apropos that your work is somehow tangent to the world of imaging and optics.)

May you, and your tribe, not just increase, but go forth and multiply.

The Guy With A Blog

Angela Zhang, 17, has just won $100,000.00, and the Grand Prize in the Individual Category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The title of her project was "Design of Image-Guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells." Let me quote from the article I am drawing this from:

"Her nanoparticle is award-winning due to the fact it has the potential to overcome cancer resistance while offering up the ability to monitor the effects of the treatment in real-time using existing imaging techniques."

To read more about Angela's achievement, click on this link. And be amazed.

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