Freshmen collaborate for a win at regional science and engineering fair

Freshmen+Jake+Cui+and+John+Han+%28bottom+left%29+were+selected+as+Grand+Prize+Winners.+

Freshmen Jake Cui and John Han (bottom left) were selected as Grand Prize Winners.

Freshmen Jake Cui and John Han (bottom left) were selected as Grand Prize Winners.

Freshmen Jake Cui from Jefferson and John Han of Madison High School were selected as Grand Prize winners in the Medicine and Health category in the Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 17.

Their project also placed first from the Medicine and Health category in the Regional Fair on March 17. Cui and Han both went to Kilmer Middle School and started to investigate an ancient Chinese herb, crocin that was used to treat depression and other disorders.

“We did some research and we found it had anti-cancerous properties but it was really inefficient and had a lot of harmful side effects,” Cui said. “To counteract this, we used liposomes and synthesized them to nanoparticles, and it made it a lot more efficient.”

Cui and Han worked on their project over the summer at two different locations, Tulane University and Peking University in China. Before leaving to their respective research universities, they had planned out the procedures and ended up getting consistent results.

“We definitely plan on continuing this because it does have really nice properties and we hope to further implement it,” Cui said. “We might test it on live animals or use it with standard types of chemotherapy treatment.”