Brittany Wenger, 17, Wins Google Science Fair With Revolutionary App to Diagnose Breast Cancer

By Chelsea Whyte on July 25, 2012 5:52 PM EDT

brittany wenger
Brittany Wenger, a 17-year-old high school junior, won the Google Science Fair with her cloud-based breast cancer diagnosis program. (Photo: Google)

Google announced the winners of the 2012 Google Science Fair, the second annual online competition that accepts submissions from teens age 13 to 18. The grand prize winner is Brittany Wenger, a 17-year-old high school junior from Lakewood Ranch, Fla., who built a cloud-based tool to help doctors diagnose breast cancer.

The app is a type of computer program called a 'neural network', which is designed to mimic the human brain. It can take in tremendous amounts of information - in this case, 7.6 million trials - and the artificial intelligence can find patterns and make diagnoses about breast cancer.

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The "Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer" takes a patient's individual test results and compares them to an extensive bank of information for comparison to help doctors diagnose the disease.

Her program combed data from "fine needle aspirates," a minimally invasive procedure that, unfortunately, is often one of the least precise diagnosis processes, according to Fox News. But Wenger's program may be able to change that. It correctly identifies 99 percent of malignant tumors.

"I think it might be hospital ready," she told WWSB.

Wenger first developed a passion for science as a small child, when she got to know the doctors caring for her younger brother who suffered from a lung condition. "I really grew to idolize the men and women in scrubs and got a taste of what science could do to change the world," she said, according to Scientific American.

Wenger learned about artificial intelligence during a seventh-grade school project. She was immediately enthralled, bought a book on programming and taught herself how to code, according to CNN.

"My enthusiasm for science continues to blossom," Wenger told Fox News. "I expect to major in computer science when I attend college and continue to medical school."

And her $50,000 Google scholarship may help her get there. Wenger will also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience at Lego, CERN, or Google, all partners in the science fair event.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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