PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- A Shawnee Mission East senior is making huge breakthroughs on an international level when it comes to research on how iron impacts the vision of Alzheimer's disease patients.
Stuti Dalal's work has gained so much attention it's now being published in a big-time scientific journal.
"I love that I can, like at such a young age, take these opportunities to help my society and help the world around me," Stuti said.
The 17-year-old is doing things no one her age has ever done.
"I like to call myself a person who's able to give back to society, but I also just like to consider myself a normal high schooler," she said.
She's conducting medical research that might one day help find a cure for Alzheimer's.
"Seeing what a patient itself goes through and what their parents go through really inspired me," Stuti said.
Her passion comes from pain. The Johnson County teen, who once lived in India, watched her great uncle struggle from the disease.
"What really kind of struck my curiosity was the fact that no one knows why this happens," she said.
She noticed a correlation: Her great uncle had problems with his vision because of his Alzheimer's.
"I really wanted to explore that, these ocular symptoms. Why do they occur? How are they correlated? And things like that," Stuti said.
Her bio-medial research began in the fourth grade. Since then, she's looked at everything from the effect of turmeric on ultraviolet-induced cancer cells to a link between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's to her latest project.
" I specifically focused on Alzheimer's and the eye because that is also a big area where patients are affected," the 17-year-old said.
And Stuti is even inspiring people older than her.
"When you're able to work with a kid like that who has the passion, has the discipline to follow through," Shawnee Mission East science teacher Miles Martin said, trailing off.
Martin called Stuti one of a kind and said she's a light to those around her.
"She's doing some things now that I did in my master's program," he said.
At just 15 years old, Stuti started working at KU Medical Center and later at Case Western University in Ohio. She spends her summers in a lab just outside of Cleveland.
"I reached out to labs that were interesting to me, their topics like pathology, things like that, and I reached out to the principal investigator whose lab it was," Stuti said. "I'm actually like the only high-schooler or non Ph.D person that works there."
Her years of research, so far, have led to being published in the journal Experimental Eye Changes, when she was just 16 years old.
"I'm really grateful because I've been given such wonderful opportunities," she said.
Stuti's research has been honored at the school, district, state, tri-state, national and international level. In fact, during her sophomore year, she presented the work at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
If that wasn't enough, she was just named a National Merit Scholar.
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