Pittsburgh, May 18 (CNA) Three Taiwan students received second prizes of US$1,500 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair's (ISEF's) award ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Friday.
Su Tzu-hsuan and Shang Kuang-ming, both 17-year-olds from Taipei Municipal Chien-Kuo High School, won second prize in the medicine and health sciences category for their insights into how the rare fungi Antrodia cinnamomea -- only found in Taiwan -- fights breast cancer cells.
Hsieh Tying-Shiuan, 17, from Taipei First Girls High School, was awarded a second prize in the animal sciences division for identifying a gene that controls eye development in fruit flies.
Antrodia cinnamomea, known in Chinese as Niu Chang Chi, is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine and is sometimes used as an alternative cancer treatment.
According to their research, Su and Shang found that extracts from 3-month-old fungi specimens were the most effective in inhibiting the development of breast cancer cells.
In addition to their ISEF prizes, Su and Shang won two special awards a day earlier, including third prize from Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and fourth prize from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, making them the biggest winners from the Taiwan team.
This is the second time that the two students have represented Taiwan at the fair.
Shang said it did not really matter if he won an award or not because it was an important life experience whatever happened. He thanked friends and families for their support over the last two years.
Su, who participated in the fair's math division last year, said it felt very different competing in the medicine category this year, and that there were a lot of gifted people out there. He thanked his labmates after winning the award.
For her part, Hsieh thanked her parents, teachers, professors, classmates and peers for their support and encouragement, saying that without them "she would not have been able to take this road."
The United States science fair is one of the world's largest pre-college science competitions, and attracts approximately 7 million high school entrants around the globe annually. Only 1,500 people, however, are chosen for the final round after elimination contests at local, regional and national level.
The fair hands out US$3 million in scholarships and awards per year.
(By Leaf Chiang and C.J. Lin)