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Heman Bekele

Researcher, Scientist

Heman Bekele won the title "America's Top Young Scientist" for developing an innovative bar of soap that treats skin cancer.

Heman Bekele

Last Updated: October 29, 2023

Heman Bekele WikiPedia: The 14-Year-Old Wunderkind Revolutionizing Cancer Treatment

At just 14 years old, Heman Bekele has emerged as America’s Top Young Scientist and a beacon of innovation in the field of medical science. Bekele’s remarkable journey from a high school freshman to a young scientist making waves in the scientific community is nothing short of inspirational.

Born with an innate curiosity and a passion for medicine, programming, and making a meaningful impact, Heman Bekele is a freshman at W.T. Woodson High School in Annandale, Virginia. His impressive LinkedIn bio reflects his diverse skills and interests, proudly stating his proficiency in programming languages like Python, Lua, JavaScript, and C. Bekele is not just a programming whiz; he is a self-taught programmer, a testament to his innate talent and insatiable thirst for knowledge.

What catapulted Bekele into the national spotlight was his groundbreaking work in developing a simple yet game-changing solution for skin cancer. Competing against nine other finalists in the 2023 3M Young Scientists Challenge, Bekele clinched the prestigious title of America’s Top Young Scientist, along with a grand prize of $25,000.

Bekele’s winning project involved creating an affordable bar of soap infused with medicinal properties that target and treat skin cancer. His innovation lies in the infusion of three key ingredients that can reactivate dendritic cells, the body’s first line of defense in generating an immune response to combat this deadly disease. The incredible part is that each bar of this life-saving soap costs a mere $0.50, making it accessible to people worldwide.

The young scientist’s motivation for this pioneering work came from a place of compassion and a deep sense of social responsibility. As Bekele astutely pointed out, “Skin cancer is mostly found in people living in developing countries, but the average price for an operation is $40,000.” This stark reality moved him to action, determined to bridge the gap between essential healthcare and affordability.

In his journey to create this skin cancer-treating soap, or SCTS, Bekele conducted extensive research and honed his understanding of dendritic cells. He selected three key ingredients, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin, which are known to be keratolytic agents, breaking down the skin’s outer layers. His project submission for the Young Scientists Challenge meticulously outlined how this product could be applied to the skin as a treatment following a prescription.

Heman Bekele’s ambitions extend beyond the laboratory. He envisions himself as an electrical engineer, leading a team of professionals in the development of innovative electrical systems that will shape the future of technology. His personal and professional aspirations intertwine, with Bekele expressing his hopes for a fulfilling personal life with a loving family and a strong network of friends.

Bekele’s commitment to giving back is evident in his desire to mentor aspiring engineers and support initiatives that promote STEM education. Looking ahead, Bekele’s vision for the future is clear: “Ultimately, in 15 years, I hope to have positively impacted the world through my work and personal endeavors.”

In a world often overshadowed by negativity, Heman Bekele’s story is a shining testament to the power of youthful determination and innovation. With a heart full of compassion and a mind brimming with ideas, this young scientist is poised to make a profound impact on the world of medicine and beyond. The story of Heman Bekele is one that reminds us all that age is no barrier to making a difference.

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