Making a scientific discovery is an incredible achievement at any age — and Indeever Madireddy made one at just 17 years old.
The Silicon Valley high school senior, avid fishkeeper, and 2022 Davidson Fellow channeled his curiosity about his pet fish, Calvin, who recently died, into a research project. The result: Madireddy made history, becoming the first person to sequence the genome of a freshwater angelfish.
“I did it because I wanted to learn more about my fish,” Madireddy told Indica News in December, adding: “I thought I could do this cool project where I contribute something new to science.”
Prior to Calvin’s death in March of 2022, Madireddy learned that no one had ever successfully sequenced the genome of the fish species. So with some prior experience in molecular biology, along with $2,000 — half of which was crowdfunded — he went to work to change that.
After spending over a month learning genomics on his own, he worked on his project at BioCurious, a community lab in Santa Clara. There, he proceeded to get the raw sequencing data with a small sequencer made by Oxford Nanopore, according to New Scientist.
Once he analyzed his data, he published his findings in an October paper in an open access journal. His work quickly caught the attention of those in the scientific field — not only for the research itself, but also for how Madireddy maximized the use of accessible community resources.
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“This is a wonderful example of an inquisitive spirit and what young scientists can do when you remove technology barriers like cost and complexity,” Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore, told New Scientist of Madireddy’s achievement.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t Madireddy’s only research project. The teen was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for his research that hypothesizes that “the bacterial CRISPR-Ca9 system, which protects bacteria from viral infections, could be repurposed to function as an intracellular defense mechanism for human cells.”
“My work has a strong potential to impact people’s lives. By stably integrating Cas9 or a different RNA targeting Cas variant into the genome of humans, the body will be more equipped to handle viral infections,” he said to the Davidson Institute.
With these projects under his belt, Madireddy has advice for other young researchers.
“Anyone can do research; you just have to get started. Find what you’re interested in and pursue it. Don’t be afraid of what other people think or even what the results will be,” he told 23andMe.
As if Madireddy wasn’t busy enough making a name for himself as a researcher: He is also the founder of FireWorks, a nonprofit on a mission to “educate and to engage with the world’s youth to promote their future financial success and to preserve our environment, starting with students.”
On top of leading his own organization and dedicating his time to research, the high school student is involved in the Boy Scouts, likes playing the Tabla (hand drums used in Indian music), “developed a patent-pending method to manufacture sustainable paper bags from kelp pulp,” and has dreams of owning a tropical fish store. We’d say he’s well on his way!