North Penn student on path to success
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.”
Lijia Xie stands with a presentation of his work, which he presented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.