2 San Jose students competing in nation's most prestigious science contest

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area's best and brightest are about to go head-to-head in the nation's most prestigious science contest.

The Intel Science Prize will be awarded next week and just 40 high school students are still in the running.

From a computer combating cancer to an app to diagnose asthma, these high school seniors in San Jose are tackling world problems.

"It's so alarming that people are dying from diseases that can be detected early and can't be treated just because they don't have access to the expensive system," Presentation High School student Maya Varma said.

Varma created a device and app to test lung function. "Spurameters that are used in the industry cost thousands of dollars and mine reduces the cost to $35," she said.

It tests for COPD, asthma, emphasima, chronic bronchitis and restrictive lung disease.

She's headed to Washington, D.C. as a finalist for the Intel Science Prize, along with Jonathan Ma, a senior at the Harker School.

"I'm very excited to head to DC," Ma said.

Ma's work centers on targeted cancer treatment. "To more accurately gauge the patient's response to a given drug," he said.

He's using public genome data from cancer patients. "Take your genome data and predict which drug or drugs would be the best to treat you," Ma explained.

As two of the 40 finalists, the students are competing for more than $1 million in awards.

But you can't put a price on experience, they say.

"Like apart from the research, that itself is amazing, the experience will also be very rewarding," Varma said.

"I'm very excited to continue making medical devices and hopefully improve a lot of lives in the future," Ma said.

After the competition, both are deciding between Stanford and Harvard for college.

For the full list of finalists, click here.
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