Can big data have a role in treating dementia? That’s what this Northeastern student is hoping to help solve

Dementia is a devastating condition that impacts more than 55 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that one in nine people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s.

Conditions like Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause cognitive impairments can be difficult to treat. Early symptoms are often subtle and may go undetected by medical professionals. And as these diseases progress, they become even harder and harder to manage. Individuals begin to lose the ability to speak, think and move before eventually succumbing to the disease.

Ethan Wong, a fourth-year student at Northeastern University, will use the power of “big data,” biology and neuroscience to help develop better early intervention models for those suffering with cognitive impairments when he starts his studies at Churchill College at Cambridge University this fall.

Wong is one of just 16 individuals around the globe this year to be honored with Cambridge University’s Churchill Scholarship. The illustrious honor was created by Churchill College at the request of Sir Winston Churchill when the college was founded in 1960, according to its website.

This isn’t Wong’s first award. He was also a 2023 recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes students pursuing research in math, natural science and engineering.

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University