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Intel Science Talent Search Winner

Boot Camp feature for Friday, March 26, 2004

The nation's top high school scientist. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. He's a 17 year old student at North Attleboro High School in Massachusetts. Mason Hedberg has been named the winner of this year's Intel Science Talent Search and the 100 thousand dollar scholarship that goes with it. His focus…has been on cancer research…

"I worked with an enzyme called telomerase which is found almost exclusively in cancer cells and gives cancer cells their immortality so they can divide forever. So I developed a process than can try to find and identifies telomerase inhibitors, which can be very potent tumor suppressors. So it would be a cancer therapy that has very few side effects." How did you get involved in this kind of studying, in this kind of research at your age? "My grandmother had cancer in the base of her spine. She needed two twelve hour operations to remove the tumor. So I started reading about alternative and experimental cancer therapies and telomerase was one of the areas I read about. And I also read about how scientists are currently looking for telomerase inhibitors. I really just happened to think of an idea that worked better. And I tried it out and it worked."

Hedberg, who has his own program to get elementary school children excited about science, will attend Brown University in the fall. His grandmother, by the way, made it to the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.