Age: 18Fort Lee, NJ
Project Title: Enabling Personalized Medicine: A Novel Deep Learning Tool for Classifying Genetic Mutations Using Text from Clinical Evidence
Jason Ping is a recent graduate form the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey. Since a young age, Jason’s been fascinated by the capabilities of technology and is interested in leveraging artificial intelligence to help solve world issues, particularly those of the healthcare industry. Jason is deeply honored to be named a Davidson Fellow, for the distinction not only validates his efforts within scientific research, but also further motivates him to continue down this path of academia and science. Jason is incredibly grateful to the Davidson Institute for its support, and he cannot be more excited to become a part of a network of other awe-inspiring Fellows.
Jason’s project presents a deep-learning tool that can predict the effects and oncogenicity of genetic mutations through interpreting biomedical literature. His tool was able to do so with 92.3 percent accuracy, and after application and further evaluation, it identified 13 previously unclassified variations as potentially novel oncogenic mutations.
The work for Jason’s project was conducted within his high school’s independent research program. Under this program, Jason was responsible for all aspects of the project – from conception to completion – and was given general guidance by his mentor, Ms. Donna Leonardi, in regards to proper research procedures and biology domain knowledge. A major challenge that had to be overcome was access to educational materials within his high school. At the time that Jason began his research project, there were no artificial intelligence courses being taught, and he was the first student to approach Ms. Leonardi’s lab with an artificial intelligence based project. Jason moved onto the Internet instead for his resources, and by watching recorded college lectures, following along with tutorials, blogs, and other free online resources, Jason was able to teach himself the fundamentals of machine learning.
Jason’s project has great potential in helping better enable personalized medicine and improve the lives of people suffering from cancer. Personalized medicine is a new method of treating patients with tailored therapies based on their genetic profiles rather than traditional “one-treatment-fits-all” methods, and these personalized treatments have already been shown to be more effective and affordable than traditional means. However, the main challenge in personalized medicine is identifying which mutations are responsible for causing cancer. Currently, this interpretation is done by teams of clinical pathologists, manually reading through case control studies, functional assays, and other published scientific literature to determine the biological effect of mutations, treatment implications, and the efficacies of possible therapies. This process is time consuming, costly, and prone to human bias. The tool developed in Jason’s project perfectly addresses this issue. The tool’s ability to automatically interpret biomedical literature and predict the effects of genetic mutations presents great potential to streamline the cancer diagnosis process, lead to the development of new therapies, and hopefully, touch the lives of the millions of cancer patients currently and those to come.
Jason is a recent graduate of the Bergen County Academies (BCA), a public magnet high school in Hackensack, New Jersey. Within his school, he was a part of the Academy for Engineering, Design, and Technology, where Jason was able to enroll in specialized engineering courses, including electrical engineering, 3D modeling and CAD work, and engineering principles classes. BCA has a rigorous and flexible STEM program that provides students with ample resources to explore their interests, such as the aforementioned independent research program Jason was a part of. Jason will attend Stanford University in the fall to study computer science with a concentration in artificial intelligence.
In recognition of his work, Jason has received the Best-in-Category and 1st Place Grand Award at the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, being one of 21 high school students to receive this distinction. Additionally, Jason has received the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award, the MIT Lincoln Ceres Connection Award where a minor planet was named after him in honor of his work, and was a national finalist in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. During high school, Jason served as Student Body President of his school’s student council which received the National Gold Council of Excellence award. Jason was also an avid member and co-president of his school’s Model United Nations team, served as an executive board member of the Bergen SciChallenge where he helped run an annual science fair for 100+ middle schoolers, and was president of the ChinaCare club that raised funds to support Chinese orphanages. Additionally, Jason was a part of his school’s Technology Student Association (TSA), where he and his team placed 2nd overall in the nation in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (TSA TEAMS), and Jason was a part of his school’s Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), where his debate team placed 1st place internationally in the Biomedical Debate event.
Jason is also a part of a student-led biopharmaceutical startup where he served as Project Leader of VitaClick and led a team in engineering a reusable and more affordable EpiPen alternative. Jason and his team were able to present their project to the FDA, Ernst & Young, Eisai Pharmaceuticals and Burkland Associates, and their endeavors were supported by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Biotech Incubator. Having always been interested in impacting the medical field, Jason serves as a mandarin translator for local hospitals and also works as a machine learning research intern at Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics. Alongside the Davidson Fellow distinction, Jason is proud to also be a Coolidge Senator, a Coca-Cola Scholar, and a U.S. Presidential Scholar. In the future, Jason hopes to continue down his path of applying computer science towards real-world problems and to provide social impact. During his free time, Jason loves photography, skating, playing video games with friends, binging Netflix, and making TikTok videos.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to see myself continuing my pursuits of applying computer science towards solving problems within the healthcare industry.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Alan Turing, John McCarthy, Aristotle, Nikola Tesla, Ben Franklin
In the News
FORT LEE TEEN AWARDED $10,000 FOR DEVELOPING GENETIC DEEP-LEARNING TECHNIQUE TO IMPROVE PERSONALIZED CANCER TREATMENTS
Jason Ping to be Named a 2020 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner
Fort Lee, N.J. – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2020 scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 18-year-old Jason Ping of Fort Lee. Ping won a $10,000 scholarship for his project, Enabling Personalized Medicine: A Novel Deep Learning Tool for Classifying Genetic Mutations Using Text from Clinical Evidence. He is one of only 20 students across the country to be recognized as a scholarship winner.
“I am deeply honored to be named a Davidson Fellow, for the distinction not only validates my efforts within scientific research, but also further motivates me to continue down this path of academia and science,” said Ping. “I am incredibly grateful to the Davidson Institute for its support, and I cannot be more excited to become a part of a network of other awe-inspiring Fellows.”
For his project, Ping developed a deep-learning technique that can predict the effects and oncogenicity of genetic mutations through interpreting biomedical literature with 92.3 percent accuracy. Ultimately, this tool can better streamline the cancer treatment process, help facilitate personalized medicine, and lead to the development of new potential therapies for cancer patients.
Ping will be attending Stanford University in the fall where he plans to study computer science with a concentration in artificial intelligence.
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The following disclosure is provided pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 598.1305:The Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a Nevada non-profit corporation which is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt private operating foundation. We are dedicated to supporting the intellectual and social development of profoundly gifted students age 18 and under through a variety of programs. Contributions are tax deductible.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.