A research project by Ward Melville High School senior Gina Ma, one of 1,504 entrants in the annual Siemens science competition, has propelled her to semifinalist status, the school district announced this week.
Ma researched the generation of universal donor red blood cells using adult stem cells, a process she found can produce large quantities of red blood cells that would thus help reduce a worldwide shortage of transfusable blood donations. She said she was inspired to study stem cells by reading the work of Shinya Yamanaka, a 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
“I have always had an interest in stem cell research, and I was particularly intrigued by how the qualities of an embryotic cell could be replicated by using adult cells," said Ma, who is considering a career in the health or science field.
"This project could help to address the growing demands our society is putting on our blood supply. We are just not able to keep up with the current needs of our ever-growing population…there simply are not enough donors," she said.
Outside of her science research, Ma plays varsity tennis, participates in the literary magazine club, and volunteers at Stony Brook University Hospital.