Mayu Nakano ’23 Awarded for Brain Tumor Research

Indian Springs senior Mayu Nakano ’23 won first place in the Medicine and Health Sciences Division and third overall in the 2023 Alabama Junior Academy of Science competition for her ongoing research on brain tumors.

The Alabama Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) competition is an affiliate of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to encourage and reward STEM research among high school students. 

This year’s competition was held virtually on March 9-10 in conjunction with the 100th annual meeting of the AJAS parent organization, the Alabama Academy of Science.

For a panel of medicine and health science experts, Mayu presented her ongoing research on intratumoral heterogeneity within single glioblastoma tumors along a spatiotemporal axis using proteogenomics and non-negative matrix factorization. 

Mayu explains, “This systematic comparison of tumor spatial identities provides a coherent portrait of the prognostically-significant differences in molecular phenotypes associated with intra-tumoral heterogeneity within GBM tumors.” 

She has identified a key transcription factor mediator of the shift between spatially defined phenotypes, as well as a potential candidate for drug repurposing.

The project was judged on scientific thought, creativity and originality, research design, and skill in presentation, among other aspects. As part of Mayu’s award, she received a cash prize and scholarship offers from multiple universities in Alabama.

Mayu will advance as one of 245 regional winners to the 61st National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on April 13-15.

Mayu is a 2023 Presidential Scholar Candidate and National Merit Finalist. She scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and was a Grand Award winner at the 2022 Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair. She plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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