Indian-origin teens bag $100K in US science contest

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Three Indian-origin teenagers, including identical twin sisters, in the US have bagged a scholarship worth $100,000 in a science competition for their innovative research that will help doctors diagnose health problems like schizophrenia.

Shriya and Adhya Beesam, 16, who are grade 11 students in Plano, Texas won the competition in the 17th annual Siemens Math, Science and Technology Competition on Tuesday for their project entitled, ‘Linked Neuro-Fuzzy Inference System: A Novel Approach to Schizophrenia Diagnosis’.

Ingestible battery to diagnose health problems

Vineet Edupuganti, a senior at Oregon Episcopal School, won the top individual award for developing an ingestible battery that could transform the way doctors diagnose and monitor health problems deep in the body.

Edupuganti’s invention, which he calls a “high-performance biodegradable battery for transient electronics,” was appreciated by the judges at the contest.

His work could simplify how medical practitioners diagnose conditions that affect internal organs, such as gastrointestinal disorders, that currently require complex imaging or invasive procedures to diagnose.
Vineet Edupuganti. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@sfoundation)

“These scholars are poised to transform the lives of millions around the globe… I cannot wait to see where their dedication and innovative thinking will lead them and the rest of us as well,” David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation said.

New approach to diagnose schizophrenia

In their research, the twins developed a new approach to diagnose schizophrenia earlier in patients using both brain scans and psychiatric evaluations, the WFAA reported.

The Beesams lost their uncle to schizophrenia years ago. Their uncle was misdiagnosed for several years before eventually being diagnosed as schizophrenic. The twins say the late diagnosis and delay of care contributed to his suicide.

“People diagnosed with schizophrenia are fifty per cent more likely to commit or attempt suicide,” Shriya said.

The Beesams say the loss of their uncle served as motivation during their research and work.

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“It was amazing after we won when a mother came up to me and thanked us for our work because her son has schizophrenia and she’s happy to see people talking about the disease,” Adhya said.

The Beesams created a new system for diagnosing the disease by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess patients.-

- Published on 12 December 2016

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