Openly gay eleventh-grader Jack Andraka, sixteen, has been internationally recognized in the last year for developing an innovative and groundbreaking new way to detect the early stages of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer.
His interest in researching a test for cancer stemmed from the unfortunate death of a family friend, who died of pancreatic cancer. Shocked that there was no test to detect the disease early on, he decided to create his own at age fourteen.
According to Andraka, the test takes five minutes to run and costs just three cents, making the design both affordable and with the potential to save thousands of lives.
In 2012, when he was just fifteen-years-old, his invention won him the grand prize at the International Science Fair.
On winning the award, Andraka told “60 Minutes” host Morley Safer, “I wasn’t expecting any award…I was flabbergasted.”
On Wednesday night, October 30, Andraka spoke to Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report” about his research. When told his invention could make him a lot of money, Andraka, who has also appeared on “Ted Talks,” responded, “Well actually it’s not about the money for me, it’s really about saving as many lives as possible.”
The teen excitedly described his test method on the show, while Colbert joked, “don’t patronize me, I know what you’re talking about.”
Colbert went on to ask, “Have you thought about using your powers for evil? Because this is the age at which normally super-villains make the turn.”
Andraka’s down-to-earth, yet hard-working attitude and global rise as an important name in the scientific community makes him an inspiration to other teenagers, especially LGBT youths.
On being gay, Jack has said in the past, “It doesn’t matter who you like, what gender you are, none of that matters. It’s just your ideas that should count.”