Courtesy of PriestmanGoode

Traveling can be a pain for everyone, but flyers who use wheelchairs face another level of obstacles, from a lack of bathroom accessibility, to potential injuries incurred while boarding the plane, to the possibility of damaging expensive — and essential — equipment. 

That last point is a particular problem: According to the latest data from the Department of Transportation, at least 1.5 of every 100 wheelchairs and scooters are mishandled during air travel. Over the past five years or so, that translates to tens of thousands of damaged mobility aids. 

“If you’re a full-time wheelchair user, your wheelchair has been designed to fit your body and your specific medical condition and your needs,” John Morris, founder of the website Wheelchair Travel, explained to The Washington Post in 2021. “It’s a critical issue when they’re damaged.”

A new plane seat design, being developed by Delta Flight Products and the U.K.-based consortium Air4All, is looking to change that and prevent people with disabilities from experiencing the distressing and all-too-common occurrence of a damaged chair. 

Courtesy of PriestmanGoode

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The innovative seat folds up, allowing passengers with limited mobility to remain securely in their own powered wheelchairs for the duration of the flight, while still maintaining access to the headrest and console tray table. According to designboom, once the seat is folded up, it reveals a floor latch for a wheelchair to attach to and detach from the cabin floor, thus giving flyers more mobility. 

Air4All is a collaboration in itself, formed by the design consultant PriestmanGoode, the advocacy organization Flying Disabled, SWS Certification, and Sunrise Medical. 

Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of the airline, is debuting a prototype of the seat at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 in Hamburg, Germany, this week, per a press release

Courtesy of PriestmanGoode

“An innovation like this in air travel provides those with reduced mobility a safe and comfortable way for them to travel and remain in their own power wheelchair,” said Flying Disabled founder Chris Wood. “It has taken a truly collaborative effort to develop this seat and we believe this product provides an optimal solution for all parties.”

After the Aircraft Interiors Expo, Delta will finalize the design and send it off for testing and certification.  

“This patented design offers new possibilities for customers in wheelchairs to enjoy a travel experience they truly deserve,” said Rick Salanitri, the president of Delta Flight Products. 

An older woman with a positive outlook on aging stares into the camera, smiling.
PeopleImages/ iStock

People often say to look on the bright side of things, and though the phrase may seem trite, it turns out that positive thinking is more powerful than you might think. According to a recent study from the Yale School of Public Health, an optimistic outlook on aging can help older adults with mild cognitive impairment regain normal cognition.

Of those studied, positive thinkers who had adopted positive beliefs about aging from their culture were 30% more likely to recover, seeing improvement as early as two years faster than participants with negative age beliefs. Optimistic thoughts about aging “reduced the stress caused by cognitive challenges, increased self-confidence about cognition, and improved cognitive performance,” per a press release.

“Most people assume there is no recovery from [mild cognitive impairment], but in fact half of those who have it do recover. Little is known about why some recover while others don’t,” said lead author Becca Levy. “That’s why we looked at positive age beliefs, to see if they would help provide an answer.”

For the study, researchers tested 1,716 participants aged 65 and above who had a mild cognitive impairment. Based on a questionnaire, they were split into two groups — those with positive thoughts on aging and those with negative thoughts, such as “The older I get, the more useless I feel.” The researchers then collected data every two years over a period ranging from 2008 to 2020. 

The research also shows that it’s not too late for a person to alter their way of thinking about aging — a positive mindset can be learned in older age: “Our previous research has demonstrated that age beliefs can be modified; therefore, age-belief interventions at the individual and societal levels could increase the number of people who experience cognitive recovery,” Levy said.

Having a more optimistic outlook on life is a practice that one can start at any age, even if you don’t have a cognitive impairment.  Here are five ways to learn to think more positively. 

Dean Mitchell/ iStock

1. Memorize positive words to change your mindset

Sometimes, changing your outlook starts with the language you’re using, so the Berkeley Well-Being Institute recommends trying to memorize positive words. If you struggle at first, you can write the words down on flash cards and stick them in your pocket for easy access. 

2. Write down the positive events in your life

Many psychology experts suggest creating a daily or weekly gratitude journal. The journal can be a place for you to chronicle all of the past and present positive events in your life, as well as plan for the future — some pen and paper could be all it takes to gain perspective. 

3. Set attainable goals and chart your progress

Speaking of plans for the future, setting attainable goals could also help turn your outlook around. Attainable goals are, by their very nature, meant to be achievable, allowing you to score a win that will boost your positivity. They also provide a way to chart your progress (perhaps in that journal you’ve started). 

RELATED: “Add to Your Happiness”: 5 Positive Resolutions for 2023 — and Every Year

4. If you’re feeling sad, try smiling more

Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Previous research has shown that smiling, even if you don’t feel so cheery on the outside, can reduce your heart rate and lower blood pressure in stressful situations. 

5. Imagine positive outcomes

Researchers have found that imagining positive outcomes or scenarios can help reduce worry. In one 2016 study, the outcomes didn’t even have to be related to the situation at hand — just imagining a positive future helped participants feel better.

female patient having annual mammogram
Hero Images/ iStock

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in evidence-based and prevention medicine, released a new draft of recommendations this week encouraging all women to be screened for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40.

The updated guidelines are a response to “new and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people younger than 50,” as well as the alarmingly high breast cancer mortality rates among Black women. 

“Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women if they get it,”  Dr. Carol Mangione, the immediate past chair of the task force, said in a video statement. “They also are more likely to get more aggressive forms of breast cancer. So this recommendation is particularly critical for Black women.”

Widely influential with health care providers, the task force’s recommendations are “considered the gold standard,” per NPR. The new guidelines may expand access to screenings, as many doctors follow them and the Affordable Care Act already requires most private insurances to cover women’s preventive health care with no cost-sharing.  

“If all women followed our new recommendation, we could reduce mortality from breast cancer in the U.S. by about 20%,” Mangione told the outlet. “That’s a big reduction in mortality from breast cancer.” The task force had previously recommended that all women age 50 and above receive biennial mammograms. 

Mammograms, the most common form of screening for breast cancer, are also “the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An X-ray picture of the breast, the procedure only takes a few minutes, during which time the patient will experience some pressure. “What you feel depends on the skill of the technologist, the size of your breasts, and how much they need to be pressed,” the agency explains

In early March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration set new guidelines specifically for procedures around mammograms. Citing statistics that show approximately half of women over age 40 have dense breast tissue, which has been identified as a risk factor for breast cancer, the FDA will require mammogram providers across the nation to notify women about the density of their breast tissue and recommend a consultation with a doctor regarding additional screening. 

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“Just because you have dense breast tissue doesn’t mean you have breast cancer, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to get breast cancer,” Dr. Harold Burstein, a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, emphasized to NBC News at the time. “But what it might mean is that you need some extra imaging.”

Presently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not have a recommendation regarding additional screening for women with dense breasts, citing a lack of evidence.

“Unfortunately, there is not yet enough evidence for the Task Force to recommend for or against additional screening with breast ultrasound or MRI,” the website explains. “We are urgently calling for more research on whether and how additional screening might help women with dense breasts find cancers earlier.” The organization is also calling for more research into how to best address disparities in health care. 

Some women are eligible for free or low-cost breast cancer screenings through the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Click here for more information.

Elizabeth Lara/ iStock

In June 2021, after a day of boating on North Carolina’s Lake Waccamaw, three 13-year-old boys were playing in the water when they stumbled upon what would prove to be a nearly 1,000-year-old Native American canoe. Almost two years later, the canoe was finally excavated from the lake, and following preservation of the artifact, it will be returned to members of the Waccamaw Siouan tribe.

According to an on-camera interview conducted by local North Carolina outlet The News Reporter, Eli Hill, Jackson Holcomb, and Creek Hyatt first found the 28-foot-long canoe after spending the afternoon tubing with Hill’s father, Jess. 

Jess, who works as the Columbus County Clerk of Court, shared that he had taken Eli, Jackson, and Creek to go boating on the lake one Sunday, pulling the boys behind his boat in inner tubes. When they finished and Jess went to dock the boat, the boys hopped out to play in the water. The trio stumbled upon what they initially believed was a log, Eli told WECT, but after working to dig up the object with some help from his father the following day, it soon became evident that their discovery was in fact much more significant.

Soon after, the Hill family contacted the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology, and officials arrived by that Tuesday with scuba gear to investigate the discovery. Members of the archaeological team then scheduled a second visit, during which they excavated the canoe from its original location and moved it to a safe, secondary location. Radiocarbon dating was used to determine the approximate age of the canoe. According to the North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission, the historic vessel is approximately 930 years old.

More time was still needed to prepare for the canoe’s preservation. Finally,  on April 12, the excavation took place, with the Hills joining in to bring it out of the water.

Elizabeth Lara/ iStock

Waccamaw Siouan members observed the excavation while celebrating the discovery with songs and prayer. Per Columbus County News, after the relic is properly restored and preserved, it will be returned to the Waccamaw Siouan tribal grounds in Buckhead.

“That canoe at 28 feet long would have carried many a brave,” Chief Michael Jacobs told KTTC. “We feel like in our heart, it’s a history that we’re still exploring and understanding because this is the first time we’ve had access.”

“This canoe is about 1,000 years old,” added state archaeologist John Mintz. “It’s a southeastern Indian canoe that originated from this area, so we wanted the local Indian group to be part of it.”

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Jacobs further emphasized the significance of the find to the tribe. “We’re looking forward to examining it, running some tests on it, really finding out and going back to our elders and getting the history of it to where we can teach the truth to our people and know that we’ve got concrete evidence to stand on,” he explained, later adding, “Our history is still unfolding. When the colonists made contact with our tribe, there’s a lot of the things that we hailed as historical and meaningful to us that we’re still putting together.”

In his interview with The News Reporter, Eli described the adventure with his friends as “a cool experience” and expressed his gratitude to the Waccamaw Siouan tribe. “I’d just like to thank the tribe for coming out here and supporting us, and I’m glad we could return it to them.”

Man suffering with severe stomach pain sitting at home. Hand of mature guy holding abdomen suffering from digestive problem.
Fabio Camandona/ iStock

What if you could swallow a pill-sized device that could diagnose whether you have a peptic ulcer or a bile obstruction? Engineers at MIT and Caltech have created just that: an ingestible sensor that could help physicians more easily identify and diagnose gastrointestinal motility disorders. 

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, digestive diseases affect around 60 to 70 million people and cause around 48 million trips to the hospital per year. Up until now, doctors have diagnosed GI motility disorders using X-Rays or catheters, or through more invasive means like endoscopy — a procedure during which a long tube with a camera is inserted down a person’s throat into the esophagus. 

Courtesy of MIT

This new wireless device could change the game, allowing physicians to pinpoint the problem area without any of the invasive procedures. In a study published in Nature Electronics, the team behind the device revealed their findings. 

“Many people around the world suffer from GI dysmotility or poor motility, and having the ability to monitor GI motility without having to go into a hospital is important to really understand what is happening to a patient,” Giovanni Traverso, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and a senior author of the study, told MIT News. 

Liudmila Chernetska/ iStock

The ingestible sensor is shaped like a pill and can be monitored as it passes through a person’s digestive tract. Using magnetism, the sensor is able to detect an external electromagnetic coil outside a person’s body. “The strength of the field varies with distance from the coil, so the sensor’s position can be calculated based on its measurement of the magnetic field,” MIT News explains. Using this data, physicians are able to track where slowdown issues in the digestive system might occur. 

Saransh Sharma,a graduate student at Caltech and author of the study, told MIT News, “Because the magnetic field gradient uniquely encodes the spatial positions, these small devices can be designed in a way that they can sense the magnetic field at their respective locations. After the device measures the field, we can back-calculate what the location of the device is.”

Courtesy of MIT

For the study, researchers tracked the sensors throughout the digestive systems of several large animals. Based on the findings, the measurements were accurate within 5 to 10 millimeters when compared to X-rays. 

As far as next steps, the team is looking to continue conducting trials on animals as they pursue potential manufacturing of the product. They hope to eventually progress to human trials to assess whether the device could be a viable solution in helping those with GI issues. 

Traverso said, “The ability to characterize motility without the need for radiation, or more invasive placement of devices, I think will lower the barrier for people to be evaluated.”

AleksandarNakic/ iStock

In 2021, The Wall Street Journal announced a polling partnership with the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago “to conduct surveys on cultural and social issues of importance.” The latest data to come out of that collaboration was gathered in March, and it offers some fascinating insight into how the happiest people in the United States live. 

Participants were asked about their feelings on issues like the economy and the importance of a college education, as well their levels of personal satisfaction. Of the 1,019 adults polled, 56% rated themselves “pretty happy,” while a much smaller group, just 12%, considered themselves “very happy.” 

Having a majority of Americans consider themselves “pretty happy” is great news, especially during turbulent times: the tail-end of a devastating pandemic, increased inflation, and what can often feel like a growing ideological divide. But what is it that these rarer respondents have in common? The answer isn’t vast wealth and perfect health. 

fotostorm/ iStock

A large majority of the 12% value strong relationships, WSJ reported in an April article elaborating on the poll’s data. Around 67% of them said that marriage is important to them, whether or not they were currently married themselves, according to the outlet, a figure over 20 percentage points higher than the overall response. 

Additionally, two-thirds of the “very happy” respondents described themselves as either very or moderately religious. They also value community involvement more than most, and though many of the group did say they were satisfied with their personal finances, “as a group, they don’t attach high importance to money,” WSJ wrote. They also shared a common interest in physical fitness, and 44% are age 60 or above. 

“We’re living on Social Security and a couple of small pensions. We live from month to month on that,” 76-year-old Mary Ann DePasquale from Keedysville, Maryland, a participant who rated herself “very happy,” told the publication. “But we don’t want for anything.”

Another interesting insight from the data: Neither Republicans nor Democrats claimed a “disproportionate share of the very happy.”

shapecharge/ iStock

While many of the 12% said in interviews that they believed their happy states of mind could be partially attributed to the choices they make, they also acknowledged that some of it is innate. And that theory holds weight. Research has identified a process known as “hedonic adaptation,” the idea that people return to a personal basepoint of happiness following both good and bad events. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take some control over our general levels of contentment — there are several science-backed ways to increase your personal happiness. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of them is by building and maintaining friendships: According to a study cited by author Eric Barker in his book Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong, people with five or more friends with whom they could discuss hardships were 60% happier than those with fewer than that number of confidants. 

Another great way to feel good? Being kind. Per the Mayo Clinic, “Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels.”

Other methods of boosting your mood include practicing gratitude, establishing exercise routines, and setting achievable goals. Click here to read them all

Be My Eyes

The World Health Organization estimates that 2.2 billion people around the globe are visually impaired. Since 2015, the popular Be My Eyes app has been working to help that population — and it’s now getting a major AI boost. 

Be My Eyes was founded by Danish furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who is visually impaired himself. It has a network of more than 6 million volunteers who serve as “the eyes,” via video calls, for blind and low-vision users who need help with everyday tasks, like choosing a tie or catching the right train.  

“It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world,” Wiberg previously said, per the company’s website. 

Be My Eyes

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Recently, though, the app has been beta testing a new feature that utilizes artificial intelligence in addition to the human volunteers. 

“It’s very empowering,” Brian Fischler, who is blind and among the 100 beta testers, told NBC News.

He has used the app for everything from reading restaurant menus to finding where the shampoo is on a convenience store shelf. He simply takes a photo and asks a question — something like, “What ingredients are in my fridge?” — and the AI bot will describe what it sees. 

He noted privacy as a key upside to the AI tool, when compared to calling a loved one or video chatting a volunteer. 

“Having this kind of information in the palm of my hand, it’s just going to change so many things,” Fischler said, describing the technology as “life-altering.” 

Be My Eyes

Though the updated Be My Eyes isn’t quite ready yet, CEO Mike Buckley told the outlet it will be soon. “I hope we can launch this into the world in a couple of months, but we’re going to make sure that it’s working really well and that it’s safe and effective,” he said. 

In an interview with NPR, Buckley further clarified that AI won’t be replacing Be My Eyes’ volunteers, but rather used in tandem with them. 

“I hope it ends up being 50-50 because I do think that there is going to be a desire for continued human connection,” he said. “There’s some volunteer feedback we’ve gotten [that] when they actually get a call they talk about it as the best day of their week.”

Two adult king penguins stand between large elephant seals on a black sand beach on South Georgia Island during breeding season.
Cheryl Ramalho/ iStock

There are only so many hours in a day, and when that to-do list gets lengthy, you may find yourself wishing you could operate on less sleep. It turns out that elephant seals are living out that dream, sleeping a total of just two hours per day — much less than most mammals.

A new study published in the journal Science found that when foraging out at sea for months at a time, the animals split up their daily sleep into short naps, each usually under 20 minutes, and prefer to snooze deep underwater in order to avoid predators. “They’re able to hold their breath for a long time, so they can go into a deep slumber on these dives deep below the surface where it’s safe,” first author Jessica Kendall-Bar said in a press release

She and her fellow researchers tracked eight wild northern elephant seals on foraging trips off the coast of California, which lasted around seven months and spanned more than 6,200 miles, the BBC reports. Each animal was affixed with a neoprene head cap that secured the same type of EEG sleep sensors used in human sleep studies. 

The team found that the seals would dive at least 984 feet before falling into a deep sleep and gliding motionless through the water. Then, they’d transition to REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep, losing postural control of their bodies and drifting downward in a “sleep spiral,” during which they’d turn upside down and head farther into the blue. At such great depths, they’re unlikely to encounter predators. 

“They look like falling leaves,” co-author Ritika Mukherji, of the University of Oxford, told the outlet. 

Terrie Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz who worked on the study, added: “The thing I find remarkable is that any mammal would fall asleep while drifting hundreds of meters below the water surface.” 

“This is not light sleep but real paralytic, deep sleep that would have humans snoring. Remarkably, the seal’s brain reliably wakes them out of it before running out of oxygen,” Williams explained.

The newfound data proves that elephant seals can live off as little sleep as actual elephants: African elephants currently hold the record for the shortest amount of slumber needed, at just two hours a day. But the seals’ behavior while foraging out at sea is a far cry from their sleeping habits during breeding season, when they typically spend up to 10 hours a day snoozing on the beach.

Guinness World Records

Surf’s up for Seiichi Sano! At 88 years and 288 days old, Sano, who lives in Japan, set a Guinness World Record for the oldest person to catch a wave. 

“Holding the Guinness World Records certificate, I feel for the first time I have been acknowledged for something,” Sano told Guinness World Records in March of his accomplishment, which was verified on July 8, 2022. “Whether it be surfing or world record titles, it’s the can-do attitude that will get you there, not logic. Don’t complicate things. Just think that even this old grandpa’s done it — you should be able to achieve something as well!”

While Sano is a surf lover today, he didn’t discover the hobby until his golden years. 

He took up the sport in his eighties after conquering Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, seeking to embark on another adventure.

Sano was also inspired to try surfing after an interaction with a bank manager he worked with who had “really tanned skin.”

“I thought he may be a golfer, but when I asked him, he whispered to me, ‘I surf,’” said Sano. A few days later, he was in a wetsuit ready to take on the waves. 

Guinness World Records

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Surfing in one’s eighties might sound dangerous to some, but Sano feels safer on the waves than the roadway. “I had far more scary moments in a car than on a surfboard!” he said.

Plus, Sano doesn’t spend much time worrying about what other people think anyway.  

“I’ve been told I am a fool. But it didn’t bother me because I always thought people who say that kind of things are fools,” he said, “I’m not perfect, but not too bad either.”

This mentality of prioritizing the experience over perfection also applies to his outlook on surfing. Sano isn’t focused on mastering surfing skills or becoming a professional. Instead, he enjoys simply soaking in the view while sitting on his board and doing some tricks (his go-to move is the switch stance) — no matter how long he stays up. 

“I enjoy being swept up in the wave,” he told the Associated Press. “I am not a good surfer. So I call myself a ‘small-wave surfer’ — out of respect for those who surf well.”

In addition to being physically active, Sano remains active in his career, continuing to work a “9-to-5” workday at a business he runs.

There’s no question that, as the world’s oldest surfer, Sano is redefining what life can look like for older adults while reminding the world that exciting things can happen when we keep learning at every age.  

As for what’s next? Sano, who turns 90 on September 23, hopes to have many more waves — and maybe even some rocks — in his future. 

“I think it would be interesting to try to surf until I’m 100,” he told the AP, adding, “Maybe I’ll try bouldering.”

Seas the day, Sano! 

RELATED: Colorado Man, 91, Becomes Oldest Person to Cross Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Ellen Xu, a 17-year-old from San Diego, created an award-winning algorithm that uses smartphone photographs to help diagnose Kawasaki disease — a leading cause of acquired heart disease in the U.S. that primarily affects children younger than age 5. 

It’s a disease that’s personal to Xu; her younger sister, Kate, was diagnosed with Kawasaki when they were young children. 

“If you’re like me and my family, you’ve probably never heard of Kawasaki disease before and part of the reason for that is because it’s such a huge medical mystery,” said Xu in a Society for Science video describing her invention

The cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown, and it can lead to long-term heart complications that can be fatal. However, it is treatable, with most children recovering with “no lasting problems,” according to Cedars-Sinai.

Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Unfortunately, diagnosis of Kawasaki is often difficult due to the symptoms sharing similar clinical features with other health conditions, or “lookalike diseases,” which is what initially happened with her Kate.

Xu explained that when she was 5, her sister became sick with a “mysterious illness” that involved swollen hands and feet, a fever, a body rash, and a red tongue with white spots (also known as “strawberry tongue”). Her family was initially told it was likely the flu, but as her symptoms worsened, she was eventually diagnosed with Kawasaki disease.

Thankfully, Kate shared in an interview with NBC San Diego she has since made a full recovery.

This made Xu wonder: “What if we could help aid in the diagnosis of Kawasaki disease through differentiating it from its look-alike diseases?”

Driven by this question to help more people get better like her sister, she created an algorithm; Xu spent around $50 on computer parts and crowdsourced photos from patients worldwide. Her goal was to teach the algorithm how to recognize features of Kawasaki disease and prevent misdiagnosis.

Here’s how it works: The “convolutional neural network” is a deep learning-based algorithm that analyzes imagery and mimics the way our eyes function, to ultimately learn data “just like a child or human may be able to look at just a few images and recognize objects.” By training the algorithm to recognize Kawasaki disease with “high sensitivity,” Xu was able to create a tool that can distinguish clinical features of the disease from its “extreme lookalike diseases.”

Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

For example, Johns Hopkins Medicine said some children with COVID-19 develop a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, which can cause symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, including fever and rash. Additionally, a 2009 study explained how the disease can be misdiagnosed as a rash, along with measles, Epstein-Barr, and a mercury hypersensitivity reaction. 

Because Kawasaki disease relies on a physician’s assessment and physical diagnosis of the visual features, Xu said her tool can be especially useful as an early screening tool and in low resource settings where a medical provider may not be available. 

Her invention was awarded $150,000 at Society for Science’s 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search — the most prestigious math and science competition for high school seniors in the U.S. She earned third place out of 40 finalists, all of whom were evaluated based on their projects’ “scientific rigor, their exceptional problem-solving abilities, and their potential to become leaders in STEM.”

Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Showing the power of curiosity, STEM, and a sisterly connection, the tool is already delivering promising results. “Ellen’s work indicates that her model can distinguish between children with and without clinical manifestations of [Kawasaki disease] with 85% specificity using a smartphone photo of the child,” according to the competition’s website.

The hope is to get more patients treatment earlier and prevent medical misdiagnosis.

“I’m really excited for this, the potential of this algorithm, and I hope it demonstrates the feasibility for the use of photographs and deep learning to help prevent medical misdiagnosis,” she said.

Xu, who will attend Stanford University post-graduation, told NBC: “Even if I could change one life, that would be super, super meaningful.” 

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