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Brittany Wenger

Brittany Wenger, a high-school senior, is well on her way to making the diagnosis of breast cancer less painful and more accurate. Wenger began studying neural networks when she was in the seventh grade. And this year, she won the grand prize in the 2012 Google Science Fair for her project, “Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.” The resulting Cloud4Cancer service aggregates data from biopsies done with the fine-needle aspiration process, instead of the traditional and more painful surgical option. The goal of Wenger’s network is to ensure that fine-needle aspiration biopsies are as accurate as traditional biopsies, which would allow more women to be diagnosed and treated early. In preliminary trials, the service has achieved 99.11 percent sensitivity to malignancy, and its over 7.6 million trials have demonstrated the network improves as more data is deposited. And because it is delivered as a cloud service, Cloud4Cancer is built to support usage by every hospital in the world.

23 Responses to Brittany Wenger

  1. Joe says:

    What was your preparation in developing the artificial neural networks? Are you self-taught or did you enlist in some courses to help you?

  2. A person necessarily help to make seriously articles I would state. That is the first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular post amazing. Magnificent task!

  3. Suman says:


    Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment. When it came to programming, which software languages did you use to learn about the AI component? How did you create it?

  4. Leonardo Hermoso says:


    Congratulations and thanks for the knowledge shared with us.

    We need more human beings like you!

    Leonardo Hermoso

  5. laura says:

    I write from Italy, so… sorry for my bad english!;-)
    I admire you so much.. surely your parents would be so proud of you … you are a genius!!!!!

  6. Patricia Davis Ross says:

    Brittany, thank you for your love of the quest. Never mind the ” nay-sayers”. They are the the very ones who wish that they were in your place, teaming with success and a notable place in the science world . Continue to question. Science is ” alive” because questions are asked. My kudos to you for your tenacity. Most sincerely

  7. Booger Francais says:

    Were the commercial neural network products specifically for cancer detection or were they more general use?
    Also did all the products have the same input parameters?

    You must be really smart to understand neural networks at the age of 17. I still can’t and I’m 22 ha!

    • Booger Francais says:

      Oh ok. All the inputs are human given. That’s still really cool. I have to wonder if it’s be more effective on average than human diagnosis.

  8. Hurbault Julien says:


    If I understood you correctly, your first goal was to provide a tool to enhance the cytologic evaluation (less expensive, less invasive, but also less accurate for the moment compared to the biopsie evaluation) in the diagnosis of breath cancer, i.e. is the tumor malignant or benign.

    You’re saying, as a result, that your software has a sensitivity of 99,1% :

    * As Caroline Rowlands was asking, What is the specificity of it ? A good sensitivity is required for a screening test (and fine needle test would be kind of really invasive for a screening test), but for a Diagnosis you need a good Specificity.

    * The attributes (inputs) are still coming from Human interpretation of a sample (such as the attribute about the cell size. How do take these consideration ?

    * What was the process, precisely, to evaluate your test ? For example, do you consider in your result the variation due to the fine needle procedure (how it’s gonna be in rea life..)..?

    By the way, I’m impressed by your maturity and your skills, bravo.

    Julien H.

    • Emily says:

      You can find the specificity in the original Science Fair presentation, here on Slide 17. It is quoted as 96.53% with no training and 99.91% with full training.

  9. Rhonda H in Virginia says:

    Check out Brittnay’s code for yourself ( http://cloud4cancer.appspot.com/ )

  10. The Grim Snark says:

    Kids these days…

  11. Duffy Godshall says:

    Hello Ms. Wenger

    I’m a TED fan and a fan of your work. Just thought I’d comment. I’ll keep it brief.

    When working on my online MIT classes and getting discouraged, I’ll think of you. You inspire me. Thank you for that. I hope to make the world a better place too.

    Best wishes,

  12. Buford Olivarri says:

    Although one programmer has the necessary skills and knowledge to work competently on a problem or even create a program, he or she can only do so much. Creating the source code for an operating system, for example, will require thousands of manhours from a single programmer and most probably, he or she will only be halfway through. There just isn’t enough time for one or even two programmers to work effectively to produce a usable program.”"

    Keep it up

  13. marilyn raymond, M.D. says:

    Brittany, Congratulations.I am an Oncologist in Florida. I focus my pracyice on Breast Cancer and a friend forwarded me your link. Your Cloud is brilliant !! I hope you continue to work in the field of Oncology. We need bright, intuitive thinkers like you. I wish you the best and will look forward to seeing your name again in the head lines . Bravo.

  14. marilyn raymond, M.D> says:

    Brittany, bravo ! I am a breast cancer Oncologist in Florida. A friend of mine forwarded me your link. Your idea is fantastic and the idea of data clouds are past due. I hope you don’t get any push back from Industry, which hates the idea of anything free or relatively low cost.Young innovtive minds like yours are the key to the future cure. Don’t stop ! And many thanks from myself and thousands of Breast Cancer survivors.

  15. RJ says:

    Hi Snubh,

    Right now, GSF 2013′s submission is running (https://www.googlesciencefair.com/). To start with Artificial Intelligence computer programming, I recommend you to learn JAVA /programming language/ 1st. More info, look here – http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/index.html.

    I’m sure you’ve also chance to change the world like her.
    Good luck to your future endeavors,

    Programming Enthusiast
    From Mongolia, :)

    • Steve Moss says:

      Hi RJ,

      I personally wouldn’t recommend starting with Java to anyone. It’s horrendously complex. I would recommend something like Python to start with. Python has some awesome AI and stats modules such as statsmodels, scikits-learn, and pybrain, but beyond that it has a simple, clean syntax and is very easy to learn. It is also platform independent, as is Java. Definitely something you can move on to after learning the basic concepts using Python.



      • Alex says:

        I agree, don’t start with an Object Orientated language. I would go with Python or C++ until you have a good idea of classes and objects. Once you’re over that hump, Java is an “easy” language.

  16. Shubh says:

    Hi Brittany,
    Congratulations on winning the Google Science Fair 2013… and I really think you’ve done a great job for society. In fact, I am also interested in coding and right now I am still learning Html on codeacademy. Can you please explain to me how you made an app that could think a bit like the human brain? I want to understand how that works. My knowledge about coding is still limited because I have only been doing this for a few months and I am in the 8th grade…

    • Nicholas Pequeno says:

      I recommend the online ‘course’
      Stanford’s Machine Learning on coursera.org
      Also checkout udacity.com for programming courses in general.
      Brittany’s network actually seems pretty ‘simple’. It’s just very well designed. Implementing it should be fairly easy with an adequate knowledge of programming and artificial neural networks. (and in this case, cloud resources)

      I wish I could meet Brittany in person. I’ve been working with similar topics (ANNs and cloud computing). I just haven’t started on anything as profound as this, and I’m about a year older. (and not a woman)

  17. Caroline Rowlands says:

    You do not mention the specificity of your test. I suspect it is very low?