Bradenton teen honored by Time for work on breast cancer - WFLA News Channel 8

Bradenton teen honored by Time for work on breast cancer

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Brittany Wenger Brittany Wenger
BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) - A Bradenton teenager Brittany Wenger is the queen of multi-tasking. While studying in high school and balancing sports, she developed a program to detect breast cancer cells.

Now, she's being honored by Time magazine as one of the 30 people under 30 who are changing the world.

Like just about any 19-year-old, Wenger enjoys being on the computer. Except for this Duke University freshman, her computer sessions can help millions of women worldwide.

"It's really exciting to think a computer can be programmed to do something that we can't," she said.

In 7th rade she got interested in coding, and researched as much as she could.

"I taught the computer how to play soccer at first, because I was a really avid soccer player," she said. "But then when I was in tenth grade, my cousin was actually diagnosed with breast cancer, so that's when I really decided I wanted to merge my passion of artificial intelligence with making a difference in the diagnostic process."

So she spent a year designing a program that could breast cancer cells.

"It's amazing the amount of resources we have available on the web to us as students. I was able to get about 700 samples on the public domain," Wenger said. "I worked over 7.6 million tests, I would set my alarm day and night to try to run the program."

Eventually she succeeded, creating a program that's currently being actively tested in hospitals. And because of her work, Time magazine recognized Wenger as one of the 30 people under 30 who are changing the world!

"I'm so just in awe, that so many scientists and people are recognizing it," she said.

The technical name is the Global Neural Network Cloud Service for breast cancer.

There are currently a couple of different procedures to detect breast cancer, and some are very painful and expensive. The most affordable and least invasive procedure is called fine needle aspiration, but by itself, it's not considered the best.

So Wenger collected data from hundreds of these types of biopsies and placed them into a computer cloud. Then she developed a program where after answering a couple of questions the computer can determine whether the cancer cells are malignant or benign.

"I've run a bunch of trials and I've proven that it's over 99 percent effective in diagnosing the cancer patients I've currently had," she said.

And the more data she enters, the more the computer will learn, and the more effective the program will become.

"As I get more samples, the success rate should increase since the computer is learning, and the inconclusive rates should continue to decrease so I think it has a lot of potential, it's exciting for sure," she said.

The system is currently being tested in two hospitals and Wenger hopes to get more hospitals involved.

  It's really exciting and it's really cool to think someday we'll be able to help real people and saving real lives," she said.
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