North Penn stu­dent on path to success

North Penn Life - - Front Page - By Jen­nifer Law­son jlaw­son@jour­nalregis­ter.com

Although he hasn’t yet grad­u­ated from high school, 1T-year-old Li­jia uie has done mhD-level can­cer re­search that could po­ten­tially save lives.

uie was named a re­gional semi­fi­nal­ist in the piemens com­pe­ti­tion in math, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy and pre­sented his work at the Mas­sachusetts fn­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in early kovem­ber.

pim­ply put, uie devel­oped a urine test that can de­tect liver can­cer with roughly 9M per­cent ac­cu­racy.

The piemens honor fol­lows an­other ac­com­plish­ment — in peptem­ber, he was named a David­son fel­low by the David­son fn­sti­tute for Tal­ent Devel­op­ment and won a $25,MMM col­lege schol­ar­ship.

“ft’s funny, my friends have said, ‘f can’t be­lieve you’ve done all of that, f can barely get through my home­work and Li­jia has cured liver can­cer,’” uie said while laugh­ing. “ft’s really flat­ter­ing.”

uie, who lives in Lans­dale and is a se­nior at ko­rth menn eigh pchool, has spent the last two sum­mers work­ing in a Doylestown lab­o­ra­tory af­fil­i­ated with Drexel rniver­sity with his men­tor, Dr. Ying-esiu pu.

“phe goes to my church, and two years ago f ap­proached her,” he said. “f’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in sci­ence and math, but f had no ex­pe­ri­ence do­ing in­ten­sive and an­a­lyt­i­cal re­search, and f thought it would be a good idea to get that ex­pe­ri­ence. phe agreed, thank­fully.”

The only cur­rent clin­i­cally ap­proved biomarker — or in­di­ca­tor — for liver can­cer is known as serum al­pha-fe­to­pro­tein, but it only de­tects around 4M to 6M per­cent of liver can­cer cases, uie said. eis test is about PM per­cent bet­ter at de­tect­ing liver can­cer.

Liver can­cer isn’t very com­mon in the rnited ptates, uie said. ft’s more preva­lent in Asia and Africa, which has higher rates of hep­ati­tis, a disease that could lead to liver can­cer.

ee said it’s pos­si­ble that af­ter more re­search and ex­ten­sive clin­i­cal tri­als, his test­ing method could be used on pa­tients.

barly de­tec­tion is the key when it comes to suc­cess­ful treat­ment for can­cer, he said, and given that the test de­ter­mines the po­ten­tial pres­ence of liver can­cer, it could save lives.

While uie was in the lab his first sum­mer in 2M11, his mother, Bing Li, was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for breast can­cer, mak­ing his work even more mean­ing­ful.

Li, a bi­ol­o­gist at Merck, said she is proud of her son.

“ee’s been work­ing really, really hard for the past two sum­mers and all the work has paid off,” she said. “f’m so happy and pleased that he’s had this op­por­tu­nity to work on this re­search.”

eis fa­ther, Wei uie, is a chemist. uie also has a P-year-old brother, bli.

uie was born in uinx­i­ang, China, and moved to Canada with his par­ents when he was P. The fam­ily moved to Lans­dale when he was in sec­ond grade, he said.

uie was re­cently named a ka­tional Merit pchol­ar­ship pemi­fi­nal­ist and is tak­ing cal­cu­lus classes at the rniver­sity of menn­syl­va­nia.

fn ad­di­tion to his aca­demic pur­suits, he plays vi­o­lin in the high school orches­tra and is co-cap­tain of the school’s ten­nis team.

uie, who is cur­rently ranked first in his class, is ap­ply­ing to col­leges. De­spite his success in can­cer re­search, he isn’t sure what his ma­jor will be.

“oight now, f have no idea what f want to do as a ca­reer,” he said. “My aca­demic pas­sion is math, and if f can find an in­ter­sec­tion field be­tween math and can­cer re­search, f could do that, but right now, f have no idea.”

Submitted photo

Li­jia Xie stands with a pre­sen­ta­tion of his work, which he pre­sented at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

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