Local News

Teen Researcher Attacking Cancer

Posted Updated

DURHAM, N.C. — Shivani Sud isn't waiting to graduate from college to make an impact in the field of medicine. For that matter, she's not even waiting for her high school graduation.

The 16-year-old North Carolina School for Math and Science student already has developed a system to improve the way chemotherapy attacks cancer cells. The system uses a process known as protein transduction.

"They're little sequences that attach onto the cell membrane and allow large particles to enter into cells," said Sud, whose work won a $50,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Sud wasn't satisfied with coming to the Durham campus of the School for Science and Math, where the brightest young minds across the state seek bigger challenges. So, she aimed even higher and found a laboratory at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she could do her own cancer research.

"I had to go find my own mentor. I had to call her, contact her, and it's very difficult for a lab to accept a high school student," she said.

A genuine love for science fuels her interest in medical research, she said.

"It's discovering new things. You're not reading things that are 20 years old; you're actually doing something new," she said. "It's going off on your own and seeing what can I do and what's going to eventually help somebody else."

Her chemistry teachers say that's what makes Sud stand out from other talented students.

"She's not just in the classroom doing science. She's taking advantage of opportunities to go work in actual labs and work with real scientists doing real science that is top level," teacher Kate Dealmeida said.