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14-Year-Old Is 3M’s “Top Young Scientist”

“America’s Top Young Scientist,” a title awarded by scientific solutions manufacturer 3M, is very young, indeed—just 14, according to Washingtonian magazine.

But he’s engineered a soap that could one day help in the treatment of skin cancer.

What’s going on: Heman Bekele of Annandale, Virginia, recently won 3M’s annual Young Scientist Challenge, which “gives students in grades 5 through 8 the chance to change their world for the better with a single innovative idea” according to the contest’s website. The winner received $25,000.

  • “To create his “cancer-fighting” soap, Bekele combined salicylic acid, glycolic acid and tretinoin,” according to the Washingtonian.
  • “In a submission video to 3M, the student scientist explains: ‘[They’re] all keratolytic agents that slowly reactivate dendritic cells.’ (Dendritic cells, named for their tree-like branches, help protect the skin and boost immune responses).”
  • “Bekele was paired with an engineering mentor at 3M who helped turn his idea into a prototype.”

Up next: Bekele—who wants to become an electrical engineer—plans to refine his soap and ultimately found a nonprofit that will distribute it to in-need communities. 

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