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Brittany Wenger, 18, of Sarasota, created a neural network to aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer using data from biopsy samples for her Intel Science Talent Search computer science project. Fine needle aspirates (FNAs) are the least invasive form of biopsy but they can also be inconclusive. Brittany designed and implemented her own artificial neural network to analyze these samples. She trained her system using images of 681 FNA biopsies from masses classified as either malignant or benign. By weighting her training algorithm to identify false-negative results (as identified by experts), she achieved 99.1 percent sensitivity to malignancy, which is a significant improvement over existing commercial analysis software. Brittany used her algorithms, which she hopes to patent, to develop a web-based system that permits rapid analysis of FNAs. Brittany attends Out-of-Door Academy where she founded a science fair club and is a member of the Future Problem Solving team. She is on the varsity track team and plays both varsity and club soccer. The daughter of Jeff and Cami Wenger, Brittany hopes to combine her dual passions for research and medicine by becoming a pediatric oncologist.
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