HomeSoutheast Asian American16 year old wins $50,000 for groundbreaking medical research

16 year old wins $50,000 for groundbreaking medical research

Regeneron and the Society of Science recently awarded a 16-year-old high school student a $50,000 Gordon E. Moore Award for Positive Outcomes for Future Generations for her research into suicide prevention.

Business Insider reports that Natasha Kulviwat of New Jersey compared the brains of the suicide victims with the brains of 10 people who died of other causes.

She found the suicide victims had a higher level of Cytokines, small proteins that control the growth of immune system cells and blood cells. Too many cytokines can cause inflammation which in turn leads to an increase in a protein in the brain known as claudin-5.

She concluded a higher level of claudin-5 can be a biomarker for suicide risk.

According to, Kulviwat conducted her study over six months at Columbia University. She discovered that certain anti-inflammatory drugs interacted with claudin-5 while others did not. She said more research needed to be conducted into alternative treatments and cautioned against reaching premature conclusions.

Dr. David Feifel, a neurobiologist at the University of California at San Diego, called Kulviwat’s research significant, but also warned that her research needed replication with a larger sample size. He suggested that there may be other underlying causes and that there could be no direct causation between claudin-5 and suicide.

The Institute of Creative Problem Solving says Kulviwat has been published in the Journal of Humanities and Social Science Research as well as in Applied Food Research.

“I would like to thank the Institute of Creative Problem Solving for serving as the first place that made me realize my passion for STEM competitions and research and ultimately serving as a catalyst for my future endeavors,” said Kulviwat.

Her classmate at Jericho High School, Kevin Zhu, won the Dudley R. Herschbach SIYSS Award for his research project on cancer mutations. His findings could lead to earlier detections of some cancers. He won an all-expenses paid trip to the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar, including attendance at the Nobel Prize ceremonies. He is also one of the 161 US Presidential Scholars nationwide representing New York State.

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