Brittany Wenger wanted to figure out a less invasive way to test breast tissue samples for signs of cancer.
She found her answer in the cloud.
The 17-year-old student from Lakewood Ranch, Fla., won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair for her artificial “brain” — a computer program coded to think like the brain.
“I taught the computer how to diagnose breast cancer,” Wenger told MSNBC.
The neural network she created is 99.1 percent “sensitive to malignancy.”
“Early detection is really important,” Wenger said. “And that is what I’m trying to do with my neural network.”
Wenger had scientific and a personal interest in the problem. Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in the United States, according to BreastCancer.org.
It was important to Wenger to help doctors use less invasive tactics to locate cancer.
She compares her findings with already on-the-market products and found that her network worked 4.97 percent better.
While her system isn’t ready for the hospital yet, with more data crunching, her work could become an invaluable tool for physicians.
She said that she hopes her work can be “tweaked” to diagose other kinds of cancer.
Wender, who said she became fascinated by artificial intelligence after reading a book about it in seventh grade, walked away from the Fair with $50,000 in scholarship money, an internship and a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands.