27 May 17-year-old Pinay Won an International Science Research Award with Her Malunggay Anti-Tumor Research
Arianwen Rollan, she’s the 17-year-old Pinay who developed a malunggay anti-tumor research and managed to grab the Qatar Foundation’s First Award for Research and Development in Medical Science at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest high school science research competition.
Aside from the prestigious recognition, a $1,000 prize has been given to Rollan.
Rollan used chick embryos to develop the research. The extract that she has been developing hinders the growth of blood vessels, which in the process starves tumor cells of nutrients.
“When there is a tumor, there will be a rapid development of blood vessels. The more blood vessels, there will be more nutrients supplied to the tumor. In this case, we need to inhibit the development of these blood vessels in order to cut off its source of nutrients,” said Rollan.
“In comparison with the leaves, the seeds have not been studied that much. Malunggay seeds are available anywhere here in the Philippines. In fact, it would be unusual if you don’t have the Malunggay tree in your own backyard especially in the rural areas,” Rollan said, emphasizing the overlooking of the malunggay seeds behind the overuse of its leaves as the subject for research and other medical breakthroughs.
Rollan is looking forward that her research will become a basis to develop an affordable and accessible anti-tumor treatment in the near future. She said, “I realized that cancer drugs are very expensive and these also have fatal side effects. This inspired me to look for a natural agent against cancer.”
She also hopes that her research will prompt the Philippine government to support local research, and inspire other students to pursue the study of sciences.
“I really hope that our government would establish a special organization with complete facilities that give more attention to these kinds of projects.” She also added, “There are a lot of bright young minds in our country and the only problem is that there is no one to help them fund their research.”
Prior to this achievement, Rollan started her journey in this line of research when she was inspired after the death of her grandmother from cancer. She had also won various local contests before, which prompted her parents, teachers, and mentors to join ISEF.
“I never thought that I would reach ISEF because before, I was just watching and reading about it from the internet. I thought that I never would have a chance to go that far,” she said.
Upon knowing that she got the award, she told her experience, “I didn’t expect my name to be called since there were only a few awards left to be given. When I reached backstage, I was really shaking because of shock and happiness.”
Full of enthusiasm, Rollan said, “Ten years from now, I see myself as a Filipina who have made waves in the field of research and at that time, I have already inspired the Filipino youth to think beyond.”