Fourteen-year-old makes historic invention to treat skin cancer

“Curing cancer, one bar of soap at a time.”

Sarah Almas PrithibiSarah Almas Prithibi
Published : 26 Oct 2023, 11:19 PM
Updated : 26 Oct 2023, 11:19 PM

Fourteen-year-old Heman Bekele, a ninth grader from Virginia, has been named "America's Top Young Scientist" for the invention of a soap to treat cancer. He won the prestigious award from Discovery Education and 3M after pitching a video to present his idea for the cancer-fighting soap for a middle school science competition back in June.

The soap, which costs less than $10 contains a compound that restores the human skin's protective barrier to fight skin cancer.

He told the USA Today, "I believe that young minds can have a positive impact in the world. I have always been interested in biology and technology and this challenge gave me the perfect platform to showcase my ideas."

Heman relocated his home from Ethiopia to the USA at the age of 4.

While living in Ethiopia, he always saw how people would work under the scorching sun for long hours without being aware of the risks of skin cancer.

His childhood memories from Ethiopia fueled his decision to research.

Scientists have tried to find a solution to treat skin cancer for decades. The National Institutes of Health reports that skin cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed groups of cancers worldwide.

Heman has spent the past four months competing against nine other finalists. The competition was held to help the fifth and eighth graders develop innovative ideas to change the world. The award-winning young scientists received a cash prize of $25,000.

Deborah Isabelle, his mentor, has helped Heman to advance his discovery.

“I wanted to make my idea something that not only was great in terms of science but also could be accessible to as many people as possible,” Herman told the Washington Post.

Reporter's age: 15 | Dhaka