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Pics: 14-year-old creates new cancer treatment that’s affordable

25 staffed ambulances from FEMA arrived at Camp Ripley Nov. 20, to help hospitals transfer patients to other medical facilities. (Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh)
October 25, 2023

A 14-year-old was recently named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for inventing a soap that is capable of treating skin cancer.

According to a press release from 3M, Heman Bekele, a ninth-grade student from W.T. Woodson High School in Annandale, Virginia, won this year’s award from Discovery Education and 3M. “America’s Top Young Scientist” is one of the nation’s top science competitions for middle school students.

“I believe that young minds can make a positive impact on the world,” Heman said. “I have always been interested in biology and technology, and this challenge gave me the perfect platform to showcase my ideas.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin cancer is currently the most common cancer in the United States, resulting in annual treatment costs of about $8.1 billion. To address the nationwide health concern, Heman created a skin cancer treatment soap solution that would be affordable for the average American. Heman plans to refine his soap solution over the next five years and launch a nonprofit organization to distribute the affordable solution to “communities in need.”

Sharing images of this year’s “Top Young Scientist” winner, Goodable tweeted, “He was just named America’s top young scientist after he invented a bar of soap that can treat skin cancer. It costs just 50 cents, and he plans to create a non-profit to distribute it to communities in need. He’s only 14.”

As “America’s Top Young Scientist,” Heman received the grand prize of $25,000 earlier this month at 3M’s headquarters, which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

According to 3M’s press release, Heman spent the past four months competing against the other nine finalists in order to win the competition’s last challenge events at the company’s headquarters on Oct. 9 and 10. “America’s Top Young Scientist” finalists were evaluated based on their presentation skills, passion, research, incorporation of STEM principles, innovative thinking, ability to inspire others, and ingenuity, according to 3M.

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“The need for scientists and innovators to develop solutions for the world’s biggest challenges has never been greater. This year’s Young Scientist Challenge finalists have demonstrated the skills required to reimagine what’s possible—intelligence, curiosity, collaboration, and resilience,” John Banovetz, 3M executive vice president, said. “The magnitude and complexity of the issues these young minds are working to solve is inspiring. Congratulations to this year’s finalists—we can’t wait to see what you do next!”