The high schooler who invented a test for pancreatic cancer: A Q&A with ‘teenage optimist’ Jack Andraka

Science is everywhere and cures are in the minds of those who pursue … here is an incredible young man…

TED Blog


Jack Andraka is not your typical teenager. The high schooler spends his free time in the science lab concocting better, cheaper ways to spot disease. One such project — a test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer — won Andraka first place in the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

As Andraka explains in his talk, his “teenage optimism” played a big role in this accomplishment. [ted_talkteaser id=1787]At age 13, after losing a close family friend to pancreatic cancer, Andraka began researching the disease to better understand what had happened. Andraka was shocked to find that 85 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed late, when a patient has less than a 2 percent chance of survival. Alarmed at the lack of affordable and accurate tests to detect this cancer at its earliest stages — when treatments can actually work — he pored over a list…

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13 responses to “The high schooler who invented a test for pancreatic cancer: A Q&A with ‘teenage optimist’ Jack Andraka

  1. How come no one seems to have heard of this? What a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting, Marilyn, since my son was diagnosed, I’ve been researching more about pancreatic cancer and discovering there are credible advancements in both diagnostics and cures. But, of course, most research is far away from completing trials.

      Before I die, I hope to see, at least, better testing and diagnosis for this evil cancer.


  2. Jack Andraka’s memoir, BREAKTHOUGH: How One Teen Innovator is Changing the World (HarperCollins) just came out in March. He shares all about his advance detection invention for pancreatic cancer, which is now in FDA testing.

    Liked by 1 person

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