Diverted this afternoon by an online article about this bright young mind, I decided to introduce you to her. Her name is Brittany Wenger from Lakewood Ranch, Florida. She’s only 17, but she recently won Google’s Science Fair Grand Prize for her breast cancer diagnosis app.
The Breast Cancer Diagnosis App
Brittany wrote a computer program, called a “neural network” which she designed to mimic the human brain. In her words for her summary of the project: “Artificial neural networks detect patterns too complex to be recognized by humans and can be applied to breast mass malignancy classification when evaluating Fine Needle Aspirates (FNAs). This project teaches the cloud how to diagnose breast cancer by implementing a custom-crafted neural network that consumes FNA data collected by the University of Wisconsin to answer the question – is a mass malignant or benign?”.
The problem with the FNA is that it’s often one of the least precise diagnosis tools. It’s quite easy for the needle to miss the mass or tumor and thus the cancer cells the technician is trying to detect. Often, if FNA results are not clear, the patient has to undergo a second biopsy with a larger needle or even much more invasive surgery. Brittany’s plan was to boost the less-invasive test’s success rates.
If Brittany’s information about her app is correct, her program will be able to quickly and correctly identify 99% of malignant tumors and improve breast cancer diagnosis results. That’s pretty darned exciting.
You can read her project summary here (and make sure you see the video on the “Step 1” page. Brilliant.
What is an Artificial Neural Network?
Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are programs built to model the brain’s neural syntax structure. They have the ability to learn, to understand the meaning of complicated data, and can be used to detect patterns too complex for a human or another computer program to notice.
Young people like Brittany give me hope for the future.
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