Teen’s swine flu research wins $100,000

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

The H1N1 influenza virus.

Eric S. Chen, the teen science whiz who won the grand prize at Google Science Fair in 2013 and the highest solo honor at the 2013 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, has done it again. Chen scored the top prize of $100,000 at the Intel Science Talent Search on Tuesday, for finding a way to block the flu virus from spreading through a blend of computer modeling, chemistry, and biology.

With the 17-year-old’s groundbreaking research on influenza (the flu), new drugs can be made to treat the virus.

Since 2012, Chen has worked in the lab of Rommie Amaro, an assistant chemistry professor at UC San Diego. He was driven to study the disease when the H1N1 virus strain called the “swine flu” broke out in 2009, combining viruses from birds, pigs, and humans into a deadly illness.

Chen’s an impressive young man who doesn’t just hang out in the laboratory all day. He’s co-president of his high school fencing (sword fighting) club, tutors senior citizens on how to use computers, plays the piano, and organizes a math contest for middle school students. He’ll be using the money to pay for college, although he’s still debating between Stanford and Harvard.

Featured image courtesy of Intel.