WASHINGTON: An Indian-origin teen from Michigan has won the prestigious science talent search award for high school students in the United States of America. Neil Moudgal was announced as the winner of the Regeneron Science Talent Search for developing a computer model to predict the structure of RNA molecules that could help diagnose diseases early. He received the USD 250,000 award.
Ambika Grover, 17, was placed at sixth position for the $80,000 prize and 18-year-old Sidhu Pachipala was placed ninth for the $50,000 prize. About 2,000 high school students participated in the science talent search with 40 selected for the final round.
According to the Society for Science, which runs the competition sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Maudgal's computational biology and bioinformatics project "accelerates the structure of different RNA molecules to facilitate the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic drugs for diseases such as cancer, autoimmune and can reliably predict diseases and viral infections.
In the ceremony, 40 winners, including Maudgal, were given a total prize money of more than 18 lakh dollars. Winners were selected based on the scientific rigor of their work, exceptional problem-solving abilities and leadership in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. 18-year-old Emily Okashio of Virginia stood second and 17-year-old Ellen Shu of California stood at third position.