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Teen Programs Artificial Brain to Detect Breast Cancer — With 99 Percent Sensitivity

Seventeen-year-old Brittany Wenger of Lakewood Ranch, Fla. has created a most impressive science fair project. The high school junior won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair in Palo Alto, Calif. by writing a breast-cancer detecting app that diagnoses with an incredible 99.11 percent sensitivity.

The app, based on an artificial neural network, is basically a computer program whose structure is inspired by the way brain cells connect with one another. The program “learns” what to do by analyzing examples they’re given and perform better if they get more examples. They’re able to detect patterns in data that are too complex for human brains or other types of programs to analyze.

Brittany is hosting her app, called Cloud4Cancer, online, so that other doctors can enter in their own data, she said. Given more data, it should work even better, she wrote. She also thinks her approach can be used to make neural networks that diagnose other diseases, including prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.

Google Science Fair judges who awarded her the prize said her innovation will provide a cheaper and less invasive method for detecting malignant breast tumors.

Her Google Science Fair win earns her an internship at one of the institutions hosting the Google Science Fair. Google’s partners for the event are LEGO, Scientific American, National Geographic, and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. She also won a $50,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands, and a trophy made of white Lego bricks.

Brittany is going into her senior year of high school. She plans to major in either science or computer science for her bachelor’s degree, and then attend medical school to become a pediatric oncologist, reports the Herald Tribune.

(Photo Credit: Google)

Read more from Joslyn at Babble Pets and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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