Articles, Blog

How can we develop flu vaccines faster? | Eric Chen

November 10, 2019

Eric Chen
age 17
San Diego, USA I’m Eric, I’m 17 years old and I live in San Diego in the USA Just 10 minutes away from the stunning shorelines it’s so famous for. It was here in 2009 where some of the first cases of swine flu occurred in the US. It was then that I realized there are many different strains of influenza or “the flu” virus, some of which can cause devastating pandemics. These viruses mutate so quickly that it’s difficult for scientists to develop effective vaccines. I wanted to see if we could develop a better way of responding to new outbreaks and started to research the area. Even though the virus mutates, I found that all strains contain a similar protein. If I could find a chemical compound that would inhibit the common flu protein, it would likely be effective against all strains. I started by creating a computer model to identify potential inhibitors, looking for key characteristics that the compound would need. I then used supercomputer power to inspect and rank the compounds according to their potential to be effective. I used supercomputers because they can detect complex trends much faster than humans can. It took less than one day to check over half a million compounds, which was much more efficient than manual screening. It was important to see if these potential inhibitors would work in a real environment, so the next step was to run tests in a traditional lab. The results were positive, I found a number of compounds that could act as new influenza inhibitors. Combining both the biological lab tests and using computer tools was a lot of work, but there’s now potential for these inhibitors to be developed into real flu medicine. I’m pretty amazed by what I’ve been able to accomplish and I’m proud to have a patent on my findings. Humanity is unique in its ambition. We never settle for what is currently here, we always think about having a better way to do things. I hope my results will help combat influenza one day and help save millions of lives.


  • Reply Kwabena Kesseh February 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    at 0:35 I just love how the glass of water just happens to block out the apple logo

  • Reply Sparsh Mishra February 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

    If you've put a patent on the idea then how can it help millions of lives? Once pharmaceuticals buy the patent then they'll charge money on the drug which some people can't afford!

  • Reply Kai Chen February 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

    这才是真正的研究,十七岁的中国孩子们都在苦读高考, 中国的高考就是坑爹,完全是浪费年轻人的生命和大脑,

  • Reply Alyanna Asumen March 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I wanna be like them. 🙁 I wanna contribute to the improvement of the human life too.

  • Reply Derrick Wade March 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    How does this kid get access to a supercomputer? Also,These reports on genius children never explain to the rest of people how they did their research. If we want more people to engage in research, someone needs to teach them how to do research. Its a failure of education

  • Reply nanou yang March 28, 2014 at 12:18 am

    " to teach them how to do research." basically mean you want to be spoon feed.  Welcome to the new world buddy.  Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.

  • Reply Andrea V May 7, 2014 at 12:28 am

    …aaand he's asian.

  • Reply TheVingxx May 23, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Eric chen is such an inspiration to all of us.

  • Reply LiNingAir June 26, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Did he film this himself? Like on his own time?

  • Reply Aryan Singh July 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    his idea pretty interesting

  • Reply Ralph Dratman August 8, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Quite a remarkable young man. Seventeen years old! The molecular models Eric Chen was manipulating on his computer were still decades away when I was his age.

  • Reply PeterG521 August 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm


  • Reply Ally M August 28, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    He just graduated from my high school lol

  • Reply Sarah Cheney September 10, 2014 at 5:06 am

    CCA!!!!! You go Eric Chen!!!!!

  • Reply Scott Mathers February 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    That's a great project Eric!

  • Reply MandaLynn007 February 23, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    And then one day Big Pharma paid you off for your ideas and silenced you and your family. The End.

  • Reply Phi February 24, 2015 at 11:44 pm


  • Reply Gee XD February 25, 2015 at 11:49 am


  • Reply Pamela Chung March 5, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I live in Africa. So where do I find a supercomputer, an expert and a million dollar lab. in three months…

  • Reply Michael Xu March 26, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I wonder if he speaks fluent in Chinese, and know how to read and write Chinese as well?

  • Reply M. Syahman Samhan May 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    and help save million of lives :') nice project!!

  • Reply Donna J. Clarke July 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    So when will the medicine be available?

  • Reply Donna J. Clarke July 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    This 17 year old boy did the research that mega drug companies did don't or couldn't do, unreal.

  • Reply Botha Lissom January 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    1:23 "it was important to see if potential inhibitors would work in a real environment. so the next step was to inject myself"

  • Reply Abhishek Nigam January 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Everytime I watch this video, I find it so inspiring!

  • Reply Jaime Alonso Bedoya Peláez September 18, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Las vacunas son un engaño para controlar la población mundial. Las vacunas hacen daño, no las usen. Aliméntense bien y no hagan el mal. No teman a las enfermedades. Céntrense en las cosa positivas como la salud y el bienestar, no se centren en lo malo. Sean felices y estén en unidad.

  • Reply Salvador Hirth January 14, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    I'd like to suggest that the palindromic regions of retroviruses should become a target for enzymes similar to restriction enzymes developed by bacteria to defend them against bacteriophages.

  • Reply Salvador Hirth January 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    It would be interesting to insert palindromic regions from influenza viruses in bacteriophages and let their target bacteria develop specific restriction enzymes against such palindromic regions. That hypothetical restriction enzyme would then be attached to a carrier with the ability to stick to free influenza viruses, but I doubt that a macromolecule could cross the cell membrane, unless some symport mechanism is also provided in order to make this approach effective. Another foreseeable drawback of my idea, is the slight possibility that such restriction enzymes could reach cellular DNA at the end of prophase and cleave it, causing an inadvertent aneuploidy.

  • Reply Gabriel- Augusto June 9, 2019 at 12:59 am

    I got the h1n1 flu in Brazil in 2010.

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