By Jillian Tumlin

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) was held in Arizona last month to determine and reward high school students for accomplishments in the science and research field. This competition is considered one of the most reputable and distinguished pre-college science competitions in the nation.

Mark Laurie, a 16-year-old student from Newsome High School, won fourth place in the competition for his research on detecting Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), a cancer found in the kidney which shows no symptoms of illness or disease in its early stages.

“Making current diagnoses [is] hard to predict or too late for the patient since the prognosis for advanced stage RCC is very poor,” explained Laurie. To combat RCC before it progresses, Laurie has begun to file a patent for his new diagnostic. His new diagnostic would allow patients to have their urine tested for a specific electrochemical property. RCC and its current stage could be detected, making the treatment path more time-efficient. This diagnostic is also cost-effective, as its manufacturing cost is about $10, clearly more viable compared to other methods that cost as much as $675.

“Early detection is the key for saving thousands of lives from this horrible disease, and I think that I have done that with my new diagnostic,” said Laurie.

Laurie had several inspirations for pursuing biomedical research, leading to his participation in the ISEF. He cited Susan Prestridge of the Valrico Tutoring Club as one of the most inspirational people to him.

“She saw that I had the potential to do anything to which I wanted and that I can go on to accomplish amazing things as my life progresses,” said Laurie.

He also named Michael Miller, the Newsome band director, for subtly giving him motivation for his passions during his involvement with the marching band. Daniel McFarland and Dr. Mayer Fishman assisted him in professional scientific research, and Charles Rhode, Brian Clark, and Robert Coats helped Laurie in the process of the Intel ISEF.

Laurie will continue his research on his RCC diagnostic. He plans to apply for college and pursue a PhD or MD with a focus on cancer research in hopes of making more revolutionary scientific breakthroughs in his future.

For more information regarding the ISEF competition, refer to the official newsletter Society for Science & the Public

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