BU medical student develops new solutions to stop spread of Zika virus

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(Boston) — Karen Cheng, a third-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has received a $3,500 award from the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference (CGIU) Innovation Fund for her work on creating effective methods to battle viruses such as Zika.

Rooftop water tanks are the prevailing source of potable water in developing nations. However, the stagnant water in these devices becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread a variety of viruses such as Zika. Cheng developed an affordable automated device that safely delivers larvicide and insecticide that kills the larvae of mosquitoes in these tanks.

Cheng also was recognized for her work developing new solutions to address the spread of Zika and related outbreaks at the Zika Medical Innovations Hackathon hosted by Massachusetts General Hospital/CamTech in 2016.

She is the community outreach chair for the BUSM Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, which educates and translates for Mandarin speakers in outreach events that promote healthy lifestyles. She also is a part of the BUSM Student Oncology Society and serves as a student leader.

“My goal is not only to become a skilled and culturally sensitive physician at the bedside, but also to become a curious and avid scientist who helps develop novel technologies to address today’s medical needs,” she said. “I am more motivated than ever to excel in my ongoing training to become a doctor and provide excellent patient care.”

CGIU gathers student leaders from around the world to address today’s global challenges. This year’s topics ranged from tackling the opioid crisis with Boston Medical Center’s Michael Boticelli and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to designing a healthier future with former President Bill Clinton.

Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and 950 students pursuing degrees in graduate medical sciences. BUSM faculty contribute to more than 668 active grants and contracts, with total anticipated awards valued at more than $693 million in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, pulmonary disease and dermatology, among other areas. The School’s teaching affiliates include Boston Medical Center, its primary teaching hospital, the Boston VA Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente in northern California, as well as Boston HealthNet, a network of 15 community health centers. For more information, please visit http://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/

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