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Our Siemens Competition Winners

Blake Smith, Vickram Gidwani
Oceanside High School, Oceanside, New York, and
Horace Mann High School, Bronx, New York

Using novel small molecule derivatives to therapeutically modulate erlotinib-resistant lung adenocarcinoma – Biochemistry MENTOR: Dr. Goutham Narla, Mount Sinai School of Medicine “Our biochemistry project has the potential to regress the majority of lung adenocarcinoma tumors.” Metastatic lung cancer patients invariably develop chemo resistance to certain therapies. Unfortunately, FDA-approved antipsychotics that are effective in spontaneous apoptosis (cell death) also have unwanted side effects. Blake Smith and Vickram Gidwani were involved in efforts to reverse-engineer novel compounds from two structurally related antipsychotics, TFP and Chlorimipramine (CIP). They were able to arrive at two derivatives that induced significant cell death without the toxic side effects on the central nervous system. These small molecules may prove to be promising monotherapies for the treatment of chemotherapy resistant lung cancer.

Blake Smith


“It was the constant thought of how a single, unpredictable disease could take the lives of so many that made me want to pursue this project.”

For Blake, the desire to pursue cancer research is personal. In 2006, both of his grandparents were diagnosed with the disease. A senior, he earned a First Award in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). He is vice president of his school’s World Interest Club, plays the viola in the symphonic orchestra and is a member of the varsity tennis team. He plans to study biochemistry or biology in college and to eventually become an oncologist, hematologist or medical geneticist. Blake is the first student from his school to compete as a Regional Finalist in the Siemens Competition.

Vickram Gidwani

Vickram Gidwani

“I am awed by the level of detail we, as humans, know about our bodies and the tools and methods we have developed to study them.”

Vickram is a senior member of his school’s fusion club and has competed in the Science Olympiad, Physics Olympiad and JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society) Competition. This high school junior divides his extracurricular time between music and tennis as a saxophonist with two school bands and a tennis player on two teams. He hopes to major in business and engineering and to become the CEO of his own company.