HP Students Nab Prize for Leukemia Research

HPHS students Helen Zhang and Robert Luo
HPHS students Helen Zhang and Robert Luo

A pair of Highland Park High School students have been named regional winners in the Siemens Competition, which rewards students for their work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

Robert Luo and Helen Zhang won the team category and will share a $6,000 scholarship for their project entitled, “A Novel Therapy for the Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”

The team identified a new potential target for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, the most common adult acute leukemia and a life-threatening disease. The combination of family experiences with cancer and the science of the topic piqued Luo and Zhang’s interest in tackling the project.

“Acute myeloid leukemia is a remarkably difficult cancer to treat, which makes Robert and Helen’s research results that much more valuable,” said competition judge Jason Upton, assistant molecular genetics and microbiology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “New ideas and approaches to treatment are critically important. The direction of Robert and Helen’s results is intriguing and provides a solid foundation on which to build.”

The team’s mentor is Dr. Mi Deng, postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Luo and Zhang will move on to the national finals in Washington, D.C.

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