8th grader releases app, donates profit to researcher

By Michael Rothberg

Cameron Cohen ’16 released his second iPhone application, AnimalGrams, in December 2011. He is currently donating a portion of the profits to fund pediatric oncologist Dr. Noah Federman at UCLA.

AnimalGrams, a play on the word “anagrams,” is a word game for Apple’s iOS operating system.

The goal of the application is to unscramble words in the shortest time possible.

At age 11, Cohen had surgery to remove a benign tumor in his leg. During the eight-month recovery period, he kept himself occupied by researching and developing his first application, iSketch.

“Once I had had my operation, I was home,” Cohen said. “I couldn’t go out and play sports with friends, or run around like I usually did. But I did have an iPod touch and I loved programming.”

Cohen researched how to develop an iPhone application by watching online tutorials from Stanford professors and Apple engineers.

iSketch sold for 99 cents following its Apple App Store debut in 2009. Cohen donated $20,000 of the application’s proceeds to the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

Cohen’s donations to Mattel were used to purchase electronic devices to help distract patients from the hospital setting, he said.

“When you’re in the hospital and you just had an operation, just the worst thing to do is be thinking about the pain that you’re in,” Cohen said. “Fortunately, I had my iPod touch and my computer when I was in the hospital to keep me distracted, but I saw so many kids that didn’t, I felt so bad.”

“Some of them didn’t even have parents with them,” he said. “I knew immediately I wanted to do something to help them.”

Cohen has had interviews with major networks including ABC, CBS and radio station KPCC.

He was recently interviewed on live television by KNBC news anchor Colleen Williams.

“I tried to run through all the possible questions in my head so that she wouldn’t say something that really shocked me and I would be completely unprepared,” Cohen said. “Once I got up there, she was really nice. A lot of newscasters, you hear about how they are so nice on air but then are terrible afterwards. But she was really nice. She took pictures with me, and it made it a lot easier.”

Cohen plans to continue developing applications in the future.

“As soon as I get a new idea, I’ll start working,” said Cohen.