Amy Chyao was also recently interviewed by D Magazine.
How a Plano Student Uses Light to Fight Cancer
Amy Chyao is a self-taught chemistry superstar and certifiable genius. But it’s not a big deal.
Q: In May, you won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a project titled “Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!” Can you explain the project in a way that even I will understand?
A: It’s really not that complicated, in essence. It’s for a cancer treatment. Chemotherapy attacks healthy cells. And surgery can cause infections. So the good thing about this treatment, photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is that it doesn’t have either of these problems. The only real reason that we don’t use it today is because it’s activated by light, and it’s hard to penetrate deeper into the skin to reach the deeper tumors. What we were working on was making a drug that will allow us to reach deeper tumors with PDT. It’s an existing treatment. We’re just trying to design a new drug that will help it be even better.