An aspiring young scientist hailing from Annandale, Virginia, has secured the coveted title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” for his groundbreaking creation – a bar of soap designed to combat skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Treating Soap
At just 14 years old, Heman Bekele emerged as the victor of the 2023 3M Young Scientist Challenge, standing out among nine other finalists with his innovative creation known as the Skin Cancer Treating Soap (SCTS). In recognition of his exceptional achievement, this ninth-grade prodigy is set to receive a substantial cash award of $25,000.
Bekele’s revolutionary concept, presented through a concise two-minute video submission, centers on the development of a soap that is not only affordable, priced at less than $10 per bar, but also has the potential to reactivate dendritic cells – the body’s natural defenders of the skin – to combat skin cancer.
In Bekele’s own words, “Curing cancer, one bar of soap at a time.” His passion for biology and technology was the driving force behind this ingenious creation, and the 3M Young Scientist Challenge provided him with the perfect platform to showcase his visionary ideas.
Reflecting on his inspiration, Bekele shared that his childhood in Ethiopia played a significant role in shaping his innovative thinking. Having witnessed people toil tirelessly under the scorching sun, he couldn’t help but wonder how many were aware of the risks associated with prolonged sun exposure
“I wanted to make my idea not only scientifically exceptional but also accessible to a broad audience,” Bekele expressed during an interview with The Washington Post. To aid him in realizing his ambitious plans, he received invaluable mentorship from Deborah Isabelle, a product engineering specialist at 3M, who connected him with other scientists. Ultimately, the path forward for Bekele’s creation includes obtaining FDA approval.
During his presentation at the 3M global headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bekele passionately articulated his vision of turning the soap into a “symbol of hope, accessibility, and a world where skin cancer treatment is within reach for all.”
Over the coming five years, Bekele aspires to perfect his invention and establish a nonprofit organization dedicated to distributing his innovative creation to underserved communities, offering hope and a practical solution in the fight against skin cancer.
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