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.