updated 12/9/2008 12:01:52 PM ET 2008-12-09T17:01:52

Medical research projects by a student from Texas and a team from North Carolina won $100,000 prizes Monday in a prestigious high school science competition.

Prizes of $10,000 to $50,000 were presented to five other high school students and five teams of two at the awards ceremony for the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Wen Chyan, 17, a senior at Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in Denton, Texas, won the individual top prize for chemistry research on combating hospital infections.

"I developed an anti-microbial coating for medical devices like breathing tubes and catheters," he said. "These infections infect more than 2 million hospital patients and kill more than 100,000, so it's a very severe problem in our health care system."

Sajith Wickramasekara and Andrew Guo, both 17 and seniors at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C., won the team prize for genetic research aimed at identifying new chemotherapy drugs.

"We were looking at developing a model to take existing chemotherapy drugs and improve them, and in the process identify new ones easily," Wickramasekara said.

Kushlani Wickramasekara said her son and Guo worked on the project from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily over the summer.

"I think they put in altogether about 1,000 hours," she said.

James Whaley, president of the Siemens Foundation, which sponsors the competition, said the sophistication of the students' projects shows that "the United States can and is producing the very best and brightest in the world."

The Siemens competition, which has also been known as the Siemens Westinghouse Competition, was begun in 1998 to recognize American's best math and science students. Finalists were chosen at regional competitions and brought to New York for a weekend that included a Broadway show.

The other individual winners were:

  • Eric K. Larson, Eugene, Ore., $50,000.
  • Nityan Nair, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., $40,000.
  • James Meixiong, Evans, Ga., $30,000.
  • Ashok Cutkosky, Columbia, Mo., $20,000.
  • Hayden C. Metsky, Millburn, N.J., $10,000.

The other team winners were:

  • Eugenia Volkova of South Salem, N.Y., and Alexander Saeboe of Katonah, N.Y., $50,000.
  • Erika Debenedictis and Duanni "Tony" Huang, both of Albuquerque, N.M., $40,000.
  • Christine S. Lai and Diyang Tang, both of Acton, Mass., $30,000.
  • Raphael-Joel Lim of Indianapolis and Mark Zhang of Sugar Land, Texas, $20,000.
  • Aanand A. Patel and William Hong, both of Fullerton, Calif., $10,000.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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