Rochester Teen's Invention Could Save Lives Globally

Created: 04/28/2014 6:17 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Because of Mayo Clinic, it's not surprise that medical breakthroughs, and advanced medical technology is often developed in Rochester. But you might not expect to find those things coming from a middle school student.

"I found a huge problem around the world, which was the lack of medical technology and more specifically the thermocycler," said 14-year-old Austin McCoy.

Even at such a young age, Austin is already solving the world's problems; at least one of them.

Austin invented a low-cost, portable thermocycler. It's a laboratory machine that amplifies DNA, which helps disease detection.

"I'm going to sell some to just basic consumers, like in the USA that have the money to afford it and then I'm also going to hopefully use some of that money and get grants to implement it in places that can't afford it, like Central America, India, Ghana, etc," said Austin.

He's been working with Mayo Clinic scientists for the past couple of years. In January he went with them to India.

"Austin was talking to a room of about ten graduate students. I left the room, I walked down the hall, had another meeting, and when I got back, there were 300 graduate students in the room," said Mayo Clinic scientist Chris Pierret.

Austin went on the trip as an intern to help with a teaching program. He also got the chance to showcase his work.

"I presented at institutes and laboratories. I presented to universities and clinics and I tried to figure out where it would be best to implement my thermocycler," said McCoy.

Mayo Clinic mentors and Austin all say working together is key.

"I appreciate it a lot. It's been very helpful and it's helped me realize the capability of my machine and it's been awesome working with them," said McCoy.

"When we realize that being a good scientist doesn't have a height requirement, I think we'll realize we can do some great things in this world," said Pierret.

And as far as Austin's future...

"I think there's a very good possibility I'll be working for Austin in the future," said Pierret.

"In the future I want to become either a scientist or a mathmetician, or engineer, or computer programmer. So somewhere in the STEM field," said Austin.

A lab version of a thermocycler costs around $10,000. Austin's portable version only costs around $100.

Photo: ABC 6 News