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Bronx Science Student Named Intel Semifinalist

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Milan Patel’s maternal grandmother died of breast cancer. So when thinking of an idea for his senior research class, the 17-year-old Bronx Science student decided to pursue a project involving cancer cells.

Patel’s project consists of research and an experiment about how different types of genes that are prevalent in cancer cells interact with each other. The project earned Patel recognition as a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.

He is one of three hundred high school seniors from 172 high schools across the country to gain the recognition and each semi-finalist received $1,000 from Intel, with an additional $1,000 going to his or her respective school.

As part of his project, Patel conducted an experiment in which he took two tumor suppressor genes that are found in all cells; INI1 and MicroRNAs and isolated them together. Those genes were deleted or mutated when cells become cancerous and the results of his experiment showed previously unknown ways in which those genes can interact.

“I’m pretty satisfied with the way it turned out,” Patel said. “It was a pretty big project that need a lot of analysis. It might give futures scientists ways to create novel therapeutic strategies to fight cancer.”

Patel had been working on the project since December 2008 and he conducted his research in a lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His advisor on the project was Dr. Susan Brauerman, a teacher at Bronx Science.

“I’m just pretty glad that everything worked out and I am very happy that I was rewarded for my work,” Patel said.

Patel, a native of Pelham Parkway, comes from a family of doctors. The first was his paternal grandfather, Dr. Mahendra Patel associate professor emeritus at Albert Einstein and former practicing plastic surgeon.Dr. Patel was born in a town called Baroda, in the Indian province of Gujrat, where at the age of seven he decided he wanted to be a doctor when his grandfather suffered a stroke but could not be treated because there was no doctor in their hometown.

“My father said ‘I want this boy to be a doctor,” Dr. Patel said. “Then I said ‘OK. I have to fulfill my grandfather’s dream.’”

Dr. Patel came to the Bronx in 1967, stayed for five years, and went back to India. He returned to the Bronx in 1977 for a job at Albert Einstein and has called the borough his home ever since.

Milan Patel, plans to go into the family business, and is undecided where he is going to attend college in the fall, but his top choice is the Macauley Honors Program at Brooklyn College.He still doesn’t know what kind of medicine he wants to practice, but says he will wait until he begins college to determine that.

“I’m not sure on specifics since its such a broad field,” Patel said. “But once I experiment with it in college I’ll have a better idea.”

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