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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Allergy Research

I read this story today ... very interesting. Katie Friedman is a high school senior who has made the prestigious list of 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search after taking research into her (seemingly anaphylactic) peanut and sesame seed allergies into her own hands! Very cool. Kids do not try this at home =)


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12 New Yorkers Among Finalists For Science Prize
New York Times
By: Elissa Gootman

(excerpt only ... full text via headline above)

As a first grader, Kathryn Blair Friedman was so allergic to wheat, peanuts and sesame that she had to settle for carrots whenever her schoolmates celebrated class birthdays with cupcakes.

Kathryn, who goes by Katie, now 18 and a high school senior, has parlayed those memories of confectionary deprivation into a science project that yesterday earned her a place among 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s premier high school science contest.

The finalists, selected from 1,705 entrants, will be formally announced today. In March, they will travel to Washington, where they will compete for $530,000 in scholarships. The top winner will receive a $100,000 scholarship.

For the first time since the competition began in 1942, this year there was an equal number of female and male finalists, which the chairman of Intel, Craig R. Barrett, described in a statement as “heartening.”

Katie Friedman, a senior at the Chapin School on the Upper East Side, chose her topic after noticing how many people seemed to be allergic to both peanuts and sesame. She outgrew her peanut allergy but is still so allergic to sesame that she has not eaten any type of bagel in six or seven years.

She consulted with her allergist, who welcomed her to use his lab at Mount Sinai Hospital. Over the past year, Katie examined blood samples of three groups of people — those allergic only to peanuts, those allergic only to sesame, and those allergic to both — to determine the relationship between peanut and sesame allergies.

She identified two laboratory blood tests that she believed could accurately diagnose peanut allergies, potentially freeing patients from the need to confirm their allergy by eating peanuts in a doctor’s presence.

“It took a long time and was very uncomfortable,” Katie recalled of her own experience with that ordeal.

Katie, a tournament-level tennis player, plans to attend Williams College. She wants to be a doctor and may specialize in allergies, immunology or infectious diseases.

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