When mom asks how the day at school went, she rarely expects to hear, “It was alright. I mean, I just found a cure for cancer.”
Because of his work with breast cancer cells, 17-year-old, Port Huron Northern senior Nithin Tumma claimed the $100,000 top prize at the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, March 13.
His project, which studied protein pathways in cancer pathogenesis, ultimately will help develop new therapeutic strategies in the treatment of cancer and was deemed as, “an absolutely elegant project” by head judge Dr. Andy Yeager of the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
Eventually, Tumma would like to further research how physicians can more directly target cancer cells in treatment, inhibiting the cell’s malignancy, while inducing less toxic and less damaging therapies.
After surpassing 1,839 other high school participants and winning the $100,000 top prize, Tumma went on to meet President Barrack Obama and was interviewed on national news television shows like Fox News and MSNBC.
Once the barrage of interviews, congratulations, and excitement ceases, Tumma says he looks forward to relaxing and hanging out with friends, like any other teenager.
He hopes to eventually put his scholarship towards acquiring an M.D. or Ph.D. in computational biology through Harvard University, while still focusing on clinical research.
Concerning college, he says he looks forward to, “meeting people with the same interests. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Oh, and, I can’t wait to learn more.”
After being raised by parents who are both physicians (his father, Suresh Tumma, is a cardiologist, and his mother, Kavita Tumma, is a gastroenterologist), always being encouraged to decide his own interests, and putting hours of time into lab research at Wayne State University over the past three years, Tumma feels well adjusted for college life.
He believes, “Imagination is how we tackle new things. Knowledge is fairly easy to come by. If you can read a book, you can get knowledge. But imagination is the driving force behind progress.”
He says, “It’s never too early to get started. I encourage people to try anything that interests them. You never know what will happen.”
You never know. You could even find a cure for cancer.
And like anyone else who has met Tumma, Clay Kimball, a fellow classmate, says, “I’m going to be proud to be able to say, ‘See that guy? The one who cured all cancer and made food free to everyone? Yeah, I went to school with him.’”