Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable
lessons on how to succeed in business and in life.
The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on May 28th, 2013

15 year old Jack Andraka: Who in 2012 made a discovery that could revolutionize the diagnosis of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers.

At just 15, Jack, a high school freshman was too young to drive and too young to vote but he was not too young to use his computer, Google and Wikipedia and then seven months of lab time to develop a potentially revolutionary approach to cancer detection.

Jack Andraka
Jack Andraka

It happened because a man who was like an uncle to Jack suddenly went from being seemingly healthy to gravely ill, a human skeleton in just three months, and who then died of pancreatic cancer.

Deeply shaken, Jack began researching pancreatic cancer.

Soon Jack learned that pancreatic cancer kills 98% of those who contract it and that they typically die within a few months. And of those few who do survive it, nearly all of them are dead within five years.

He also learned that with early detection, this deadly cancer is treatable, but seldom is it detected early because the 60 year old means of testing for it is only partially reliable and it is an expensive testing process many people can’t afford.

From his extensive reading on the topic, Jack began developing a means of testing for the increase in proteins that reveal the presence of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers. But working in his home could only take him so far.

Jack needed a sophisticated lab and contacted 200 professors and scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere with a plan, a timeline and a budget.

He received nearly 200 rejections.

Then suddenly a “maybe” came from Anirban Maitra, a Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

After meeting with Jack, Professor Maitra approved the project and seven months and 4,000 tries later Jack had his revolutionary solution.

In 2012, Jack was awarded the grand prize at the Intel Science Fair, and along with other Intel awards, received about $100,000. I don’t know what it takes to bring this to market but Jack will need government approvals and will likely contract what he has created to a major pharmaceutical firm.

But one day hopefully soon, many millions of lives, including potentially your life or the lives of some of your loved ones will be saved because a 15 year old boy with no formal training persisted where medical giants, with all their billions of dollars in funding and their thousands of scientists, had been unsuccessful.

Success Tip of the Week: You too may succeed where others have failed if only you will apply yourself and persist in the face of rejections as Jack did. When he began, he had no expertise and even today, he has no scientific or medical credentials.

Editor’s Note: To hear Jack tell his remarkable story and explain his paper sensor detection process in nine minutes: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/My-3-Cents-0n-Cancer-Jack-Andra. To learn more about Jack: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Andraka.

Thank you to my friend Mary Ellen at http://www.pettipsntales.com/ and to her source, www.TrueActivist.com for sharing this incredible story with us.

In the next KazanToday: The remarkable story of a mother to 69 children.

Comment: Dr. Clayton Kazan (son of Dick Kazan)
      The medical info on pancreatic cancer is not exactly accurate...the stats are. The reason that pancreatic cancer is not diagnosed earlier is not because of outdated testing, but because the disease doesn't become symptomatic until it is advanced...by the time people realize something is wrong and go to the doctor, its too late...to quote Dr. Arslan, my old anatomy professor, "The pancreas is not your friend."

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Many of these short, inspirational success stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!
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