Alumni Update – Cancer Researchers Chen & Ostojic Chosen for Nobel Laureate Event

It is not every day when not one, but TWO Broadcom MASTERS alums are selected from students throughout the entire planet to participate in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS).  With its connection to the Nobel Prize, SIYSS is widely considered the most prestigious youth science event in the world!

As two of 25 of the world’s foremost young scientists, 2015 Broadcom MASTERS Samueli Prize winner Annie Ostojic and 2016 Science Award winner Cynthia Chen have been invited to Stockholm during Nobel Week in December and will present their research to university students, professors, the Swedish community, and Nobel Laureates.

Chen and Ostojic were selected for their extraordinary research efforts as they both have experience in many different STEM fields. Now, they are both focusing on bringing computer science to advanced medicine.

Ostojic’s current research uses artificial intelligence (AI) and mathematical modeling to determine gene functions.  She discovered CCDC191’s unknown double-agent functionality as both a tumor suppressor and oncogene in a DNA pathway for breast cancer patients.


Chen developed a computational framework to decode the most important sequence patterns learned by neural networks. Using this framework, she discovered 65 cancer gene signatures among 13 different cancer types, which could help scientists synthesize more targeted antibody drugs.

“When I found out that I was chosen to travel to Sweden, I was absolutely ecstatic! SIYSS is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can’t wait to meet the fellow international scientists and learn about their research,” said Ostojic.  “The Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony will be icing on the cake to top off an incredible event.”

“The invitation was such a wonderful surprise, and I was on cloud nine after I got the call.  I’m extremely grateful to the Society for Science & the Public for everything they do to help young scientists like me grow and give us opportunities to meet other science-loving students from across the world,” said Chen.  “I still can’t believe that I have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m definitely counting down the days until December!”

When Chen and Ostojic competed in Broadcom MASTERS with 29 other finalists, Chen’s work focused on reducing water consumption in germinating seeds, and Ostojic engineered a more energy-efficient microwave design. Their love of research has expanded along with the breadth of subjects they study.

Chen, a 2019 Davidson Fellow, will be studying at Harvard University this fall where she will concentrate in computer science. She hopes to develop creative technology solutions that help combat disease and discover the most targeted, effective treatments.

Ostojic, recently named a Davidson Fellow, will enter Stanford University where she plans to major in electrical engineering with a focus in AI. Throughout the spring and summer, she participated in a Forbes Under 30 Detroit Hackathon and created a website to help fellow students prepare for and navigate through their transition to college.  She recently completed an internship at the Pentagon as a Teleoperations Specialist in Operational Test and Evaluation in the Department of Defense.

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