Metro teen who developed Parkinson’s diagnostic technology named to prestigious fellowship


Erin Smith

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A metro teen who developed incredible diagnostic technology for Parkinson’s disease was just named to a prestigious fellowship.

Erin Smith was featured on a Reaching for Excellence segment in February. The 18-year-old invented a program called FacePrint, which uses facial recognition software to diagnose the degenerative disorder.

Erin Smith

Here's how it works: Subjects watch a series of Super Bowl commercials or a series of emojis. While watching, the patient's spontaneous facial expressions are collected.

"I can then use their responses to those, along with bio markers I identified, to determine if that patient has Parkinson's," Smith said.

On Friday, she was named a 2018 Thiel Foundation Fellow. Only 20 people in the world receive the distinction each year, and she's the only person from Missouri or Kansas to make the list. See the full list here.

Earlier this year, Smith was also named a 2018 Regeneron STS Scholar by the Society for Science and the Public, something that only 300 high school students in the nation can say each year.

Smith is on her way to Israel next month to do research. As a Thiel Fellow, she'll receive $100,000 and mentoring from the Thiel Foundation's network of technology founders, investors and scientists.

Oh, and she was also accepted into Stanford University and will begin once her fellowship is complete in 2020.

Smith is interested in pursuing a career that blends computer science and neuroscience and plans to continue to develop FacePrint and similar technologies. Her dream is to advance the technological side of heath care.

If you know a young achiever who is 18 years old or younger and is doing exceptional things, Fox 4 wants to hear from you. Nominate them here.

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