Junior wins $1,000 as semifinalist in national research competition

By Alex Gura

Jeffrey Bu ’12 placed as a semifinalist in the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition, a national student research competition, for his paper on cancer. Bu ranked in the top 120 out of 562 applicants and won a $1,000 scholarship from the College Board, which runs the competition.

Bu’s paper uncovered new trends in synovial sarcoma, a type of tumor.

He plans on submitting his findings to a medical journal.

“No one has proposed that there is one mutation for synovial sarcoma,” Bu said. “It could potentially help the future of cancer research.”

Bu analyzed data for about a year, working twice a week, to finish his paper and reach his new conlcusions about the disease. He hopes that his research can help the medical world treat the disease.

He was driven to research the disease after seeing the medical advancements made with other diseases.

“My paternal grandfather died of leukemia before I was born,” Bu said. “But now the disease is treatable… I was motivated by that to choose this topic.”

Bu worked with Professor of Preventive Medicine Leslie Bernstein at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, who was his self-described mentor for the project and is helping him search for medical journals in which to publish his work. He plans on continuing his research and collecting data on his own from hospitals instead of using databases for the next paper he writes. He is planning on writing more papers now that he is familiar with the process and applying to next year’s YES competition as well.

Of the 562 applicants to the YES competition this year from across the nation, the top 60 were considered finalists and the next best 60 were considered semifinalists.

Prizes ranged from $500 to $50,000, with the top paper selected by an expert panel of epidemiologists.

Students who qualified for the finals are sent to Washington D.C., where the panel interviews them on the merits of their papers. The panel then selects the best of the finalists to receive the top prizes.