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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Exceptional 18-year-old boy invents AI that produces drug, wins $50,000 scholarship

An exceptional 18-year-old boy named Jacob Yasonik has invented an Artificial intelligence capable of generating medicine which earned him a 50,000 dollars worth of scholarship.

Jacob Yasonik is a teen from Mequon who graduated from Homestead High School, the United States. He won a scholarship worth od 50,000 dollars  for his work on an artificial intelligence-based approach to pharmaceutical drug development.

He is one of only 20 students in the states to be recognized as a scholarship winner, according to the Davidson Institute. Jacob was presented with the scholarship by the Davidson Institute’s Fellows Scholarship Program.

The institute offers $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships to students 18 or younger who have completed significant projects that have the potential to benefit society in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, and music.

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“I started this project the summer before my junior year just as something to do over the summer, something I was interested in,” Yasonik said in an interview with JSOnline.

“Now to see it blow up kind of like this, now that it’s two years later, and I’m still working with this stuff and people are still noticing it. it means the world. I didn’t even know what the Davidson Fellows(hip) was two years ago, and now here I am,” he added.

Jacob’s artificial intelligence-based project generates drug-like molecules from scratch and can optimize many molecular properties at once. The project could improve the process of creating new pharmaceutical drugs by using a generative approach to reduce reliance on trial and error.


Jacob stated that he worked on the project first and then submitted a paper about his project along with a video. He did a literature review of papers involving artificial intelligence in medicine and pharmaceuticals before his junior year of high school.

“They pulled together an entire video special for us. They brought us all together to meet over Zoom, so we were still able to talk with each other to meet each other. They put a highlight reel together of all our projects and what we’ve done, which is special to see,” he said.

Jacon mentioned that he will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he will continue his education in artificial intelligence and computational biology. He said he hopes to work at an artificial intelligence research lab or start his own biotech company. 

“I keep hearing ‘Make sure you’re in the right place, right time.’ So looking at coronavirus, looking at what’s going on right now, I feel like this is the right place, right time for biotech and biotech research. That’s why I’ve been getting interested in startups and things like that,” he said.




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