In the world of science, breakthroughs often come from the unlikeliest of sources, and Heman Bekele, a 14-year-old ninth-grader from Annandale, Virginia, has just proven this to be true. Heman recently clinched the coveted title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” by inventing an extraordinary soap designed to treat skin cancer.1
The Award-Winning Skin-Cancer Fighting Invention
Heman’s invention is nothing short of revolutionary. He created a compound-based bar of soap with the remarkable capability to treat melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. What sets his invention apart is not only its potential to save lives but also its accessibility. This innovative bar of soap comes at an astonishingly low price of just 50 cents.
To recognize his groundbreaking achievement, Heman was honored with the prestigious award from 3M and Discovery Education, which is renowned as one of the country’s top middle school science competitions.2
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Heman’s journey towards this accolade was no easy feat. Over the past four months, he competed with nine other finalists, all of whom had innovative ideas aimed at changing the world. As the grand prize winner, Heman received a $25,000 cash prize, a testament to the remarkable impact his invention promises to have on the world.
Heman Bekele embodies the belief that young minds have the power to bring about positive change in the world. In his own words, “I have always been interested in biology and technology, and this challenge gave me the perfect platform to showcase my ideas”. Heman’s enthusiasm for science and technology has driven him to achieve something truly exceptional at such a young age.
A Low-Cost Solution for Skin Cancer
Heman’s invention is especially significant given the rising cases of skin cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute has reported an increase in skin cancer cases in the country over the past few decades. In 2019, there were 24.1 new cases of skin cancer per 100,000 people, compared to 14.6 in 1992. Moreover, skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed groups of cancers worldwide, with an estimated 1.5 million new cases in 2020.
Heman’s remarkable soap invention costs just 50 cents to make, making it an accessible solution for treating melanoma. But his aspirations go beyond just creating a groundbreaking product; he hopes to refine his innovation and establish a non-profit organization. This organization’s mission would be to distribute the soap to communities in need over the next five years, ensuring that his invention reaches those who need it most.
As we celebrate the ingenuity of young scientists like Heman Bekele, it becomes clear that the future of science is bright. Heman’s passion for biology and technology, along with his dedication to making a positive impact on the world, serve as an inspiring example to us all.
In the ever-evolving world of science, it’s often the young minds that offer the most promising solutions. Heman’s extraordinary journey is a testament to the power of youthful innovation and the potential for young scientists to change the world.
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- “14-Year-Old Invents Soap To Treat Skin Cancer, Wins Top Young Scientist Prize.” KFF Health News. October 24, 2023.
- “14-year-old who invented soap to treat skin cancer named America’s Top Young Scientist.” USA Today. Sarah Al-Arshani. October 23, 2023.