America’s Top Young Scientist: 14-Year-Old Awarded $25,000 for Affordable Cancer-Fighting Soap Creation
Heman Bekele, a 14-year-old high school student from Fairfax, Virginia, has been recognized as “America’s Top Young Scientist” for his groundbreaking invention in the field of skin cancer treatment. His innovative creation, known as the Skin Cancer Treating Soap (SCTS), has earned him acclaim and a $25,000 prize in the esteemed 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
Heman’s SCTS is a compound-based soap charged with cancer-fighting chemicals, particularly imidazoquinolines, which he developed as a cost-effective solution to address skin cancer. He aimed to provide an affordable and accessible alternative to conventional skin cancer treatments, considering the high annual cost of treating skin cancer in the United States, estimated at $8.1 billion.
While SCTS has shown promising potential through digital molecular testing and analysis, it is yet to undergo physical trials to validate its efficacy in treating skin cancer. Heman’s mentor, Deborah Isabelle from 3M’s Automotive Aftermarket Division, emphasized the need for typical clinical trials that might span between five to ten years for conclusive validation.
Inspired by his Ethiopian heritage and moved by the challenges faced by individuals lacking access to proper healthcare, particularly in impoverished regions, Heman aspires to make a significant impact by establishing a nonprofit organization within the next five years. His goal is to ensure equitable and accessible skin cancer treatment globally through SCTS.