Mining open data from home 15 year old wins Intel science prize. From…

From +Intel: “Because of his age, Nathan Han had difficulty finding a Boston area research lab willing to overlook liability issues and allow a fifteen-year-old to conduct research in its facility. But that didn’t stop the high school freshman from forging ahead on his own. Han was determined to study mutations of a gene linked to ovarian cancer, after learning that a family friend had been diagnosed with the disease. The upside for Han? The kind of research he wanted to conduct had far more to do with computer technology and data than traditional lab-ware such as test tubes and petri dishes. So, working from home, Han mined data from publicly available [i.e. open-access] databases and developed a machine learning software tool to study mutations of a gene linked to many kinds of cancer, including ovarian. The BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene has an important function as it is vital in protecting cells from developing cancer. Han detailed the characteristics of this gene and known mutations in order to “teach” his software to differentiate between mutations that cause disease and those that do not. In testing, Han’s device exhibited an 81 percent accuracy rate, demonstrating its potential as a breakthrough tool for accurately identifying cancer threats from BRCA1 gene mutations. Applications for Han’s research are vast, extending to research on other diseases, as well as to advancements in the developing fields of genomics, bioinformatics and big data. For this work, Han beat out nearly 1,800 other global finalists competing at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science and the Public, when he won the Gordon E. Moore Award, including a $75,000 scholarship.”
http://iq.intel.com/biotech-whiz-kid-wins-worlds-largest-science-fair/
“Comment. I love this. First, it’s a beautiful example of initiative and ingenuity. Congratulations to Nathan Han. Second, it’s a compelling example of the benefits of open data. This kind of research by a 15 year old, working from home, without an affiliation at a well-endowed institution, would be impossible if the relevant data were locked behind paywalls. It would also be impossible for a 45 year old. For researchers affiliated with well-endowed institutions, the research would be impossible if the relevant data were sitting offline on a private hard drive. It reaffirms one of +Rufus Pollock’s arguments for open data: the best use of your data will be discovered by someone else. “