By Jessica Hoover
Khunsha Ahmed, who will be a senior this fall at Fishers High School, is the only student in Indiana to receive the Emperor Science Award, designed to help science-loving students explore careers in cancer research and care.
Ahmed has been interested medicine since she was young. She has volunteered at hospitals the past three summers. She won the award after submitting a 750-word essay about kidney cancer, an area of particular interest to her.
“The essay had the question, ‘If you could cure cancer, how would you go about it?’” Ahmed said. “I talked about kidneys, and I learned that there’s attention for cancers like lymphoma and leukemia, but not many people know about renal cell carcinoma. So many people die from it every year because it makes up like 95 percent of new cancers in the United States.”
Award winners receive a Google Chromebook to assist with research and a $1,500 stipend. They also are paired with university-level mentors to complete a cancer research project over the summer. Ahmed was paired with IU Health Simon Cancer Center oncologist Costantine Albany. Her mentorship runs until Sept. 1.
Ahmed and her mentor arel mulling research ideas. They are thinking about doing genomic research to help identify genes with cancer or researching the standardization of cancer treatment between small clinics and larger hospitals.
Ahmed said cancer should be a top priority in research medicine.
“Thinking about all of the medical conditions, there are so many. Cancer is the emperor of all maladies,” Ahmed said. “It’s so pertinent in our society today, and it affects so many people, so I want to hop up and do my part.”