These Young Innovators Are Solving Major Health Problems

34 under 34:The Rising Stars in Health

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Technology and health already go hand in hand, but these millennials are taking that integration to a whole new level. From finding an easy way to detect cancer to building better software so researchers can easily share information, they’re embracing the digital age to solve human problems.
Jack Andraka
Photo: jackandraka.com

Jack Andraka

Andraka is the definition of wunderkind. After a family friend died from pancreatic cancer, he decided to to fix the way we detect cancer. Using Wikipedia and Google, Andraka tracked down the names of the 8,000 proteins present when a person has pancreatic cancer. He went through nearly half of them before finding one, mesothelin, that could be tested in a cheap, noninvasive way: through a blood sample.

He emailed his findings to 200 labs and got rejected by all but one: Johns Hopkins University. With the school’s support, his idea became a reality—before he even hit ninth grade. “It’s definitely my age that’s giving me an ‘in’ in my field,” Andraka says, "I think being so young really gives me a fresh perspective on things." He clearly hasn’t let his age intimidate him one bit.

What’s your go-to karaoke song? "'Love Story,' by Taylor Swift."
What does heaven smell like? "Vanilla and a Cinnabon."

"I think being so young really gives me a fresh perspective on things." - Jack Andraka

David He
Photo: Courtesy of David He

David He

He wouldn't recommend starting a company and finishing a Ph.D. all at once, but that’s exactly he did to get his first company, Quanttus, off the ground. He doesn’t believe people are taking care of themselves the way they should and wants to change that. “People are uninformed about the state of health,” he says. “Too often we rely on symptoms to make judgments.” That’s why Quanttus uses wearables—like Q Heart, an app that monitors your heart rate—for prevention.

He believes integrating technology into health care can make all the difference, which is exactly what his new company, Verily Life Sciences, is tackling. For example, Verily is currently working on a smart contact lens that helps people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels.

What do you do to clear your mind? “Getting unread emails down to zero.”
What is your go-to drink? “Just water. No coffee.”
Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg
Photo: Courtesy of Flatiron Health

Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg

Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg

After watching too many of their friends and relatives succumb to cancer, Turner and Weinberg made it their mission to help people directly affected by the disease find a cure. With the aid of $100 million from Google Ventures, they built Flatiron Health, which organizes oncology information and puts it directly in the hands of patients, physicians, and researchers. The duo now offers cancer patients a silver lining by using mountains of data to consolidate, organize, and deliver useful results.
Ivonna Dumanyan and Gabrielle Levac
Photos: LinkedIn Users ivonnadumanyan and gabrielle-levac-70696659

Ivonna Dumanyan and Gabrielle Levac

Ivonna Dumanyan and Gabrielle Levac

Dumanyan and Levac are shaking up sports rehab. As former college athletes, they knew there had to be a better way to train and rehabilitate the body, without relying on a personal trainer. So the duo launched an IndieGogo campaign to fund BioMetrix—a “skin adhered, athletic-form monitoring sensor” that tells you everything you’re doing right and wrong in a workout. The sensor sends updates and reports on milestones athletes make, allowing them to optimize their performance with nothing more than an ACE bandage-size sensor.

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