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Meet Kavya Kopparapu the 19-year old Harvard student who just won $10,000 for brain cancer research

Her deep-learning computer system, GlioVision, is patented and ready to start testing this year.
BY Skendha Singh |   07-03-2019

Kavya Kopparapu
Kavya Kopparapu

How many times have you read or learnt about someone’s difficulty and wished you could make a difference? And how many times did you give up thinking that you weren’t smart/rich/strong enough to make things better? Well, that’s most of us. But not Kavya Kopparapu, a 19-year old Harvard freshman who featured on Time Magazine’s list of 25 Most Influential Teens in 2018. Her efforts towards improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer recently won her $10,000.

And while Kavya has always been passionate about studying the intersection of computer science and medicine, her interest in Glioblastoma took root when she read about the late Senator John McCain’s battle against the deadly disease. She told Time magazine that on learning that brain cancer survival rates had barely improved in the last 30 years, she asked herself, “Why is that? We have so much innovation that it didn’t make sense that we hadn’t gotten better.”

Kavya began developing GlioVision – a deep-learning computer system that scans tissues from brain cancer patients to develop targeted therapies. In January 2019, she won the National STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education Award for it. According to Time magazine, this year her patented system will be used to begin clinical tests in collaboration with a neuropathologist at Georgetown University.

But there’s more to Kavya than GlioVision. She is also the Founder & CEO of the non-profit Girls Computing League which works towards shifting the balance of diversity in tech workspaces by making technology accessible.

Kavya and the League are driven by a vision to challenge status quo and effect change.As a 17-year old senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, Kavyaparticipated in Smithsonian’s ‘Long Conversation” series, where she articulated her philosophy, “It’s one thing to go to school, learn something and just leave it at that . . . But it’s another thing to enjoy it…and apply it in the real world.”

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