Jack Andraka’s breakthrough pancreatic cancer test would have never come about were it not for access to online journals — what Internet guru Aaron Swartz was promoting before his death. Andraka “religiously” used free online academic journals in the research because “in most online databases, articles cost about $35, and there are only about 10 pages.”
Jack Andraka, the 15-year-old whiz kid behind a revolutionary new tool in cancer research, has many things in common with Aaron Swartz, the phenomenon at the center of a continuing online freedom debate in the US.
Swartz was also just 15 when he helped co-develop RSS, a form of Web publication, that has enabled dissidents in China and the Middle East, North Africa region to circumvent censors. Andraka is on his way to revolutionizing the medical profession with a cost-effective, much less invasive test for early-stage pancreatic cancer and a number of other diseases (detailed in the video below).
“It’ll be three to five years before it’s on the market, both as a take home test and in doctor’s offices,” the well-spoken high school student told The Vancouver Observer.
But Swartz and Andraka aren’t only connected by their teenage prodigy.
Andraka used free online academic journals in the research that resulted in his invention.
“I used them religiously,” Andraka said, “Just because, in most online databases, articles cost about [US]$35, and there are only about 10 pages.”
“The public funds a lot of this research. Shouldn’t the public have access to it?”
An online digital activist and developer, Aaron Swartz committed suicide earlier this month, weeks before the start of his trial, where he would face three decades in prison for allegedly “stealing” millions of pay-walled articles from Online academic service JSTOR to make them available to the public for free.
“I believe [Swartz's] actions were mostly justified,” Andraka said, “The public funded a lot of that research. It shouldn’t be held inaccessible to the public.”