Karen Cheng Develops New Solutions to Stop Spread of Zika Virus


Karen Cheng, a third-year medical student at BUSM, has received a $3,500 award from the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference (CGIU) Innovation Fund for her work on creating effective methods to battle viruses such as Zika.

Rooftop water tanks are the prevailing source of potable water in developing nations. However, the stagnant water in these devices becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread a variety of viruses such as Zika. Cheng developed an affordable automated device that safely delivers larvicide and insecticide that kills the larvae of mosquitoes in these tanks.

Cheng also was recognized for her work developing new solutions to address the spread of Zika and related outbreaks at the Zika Medical Innovations Hackathon hosted by Massachusetts General Hospital/CamTech in 2016.

She is the community outreach chair for the BUSM Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, which educates and translates for Mandarin speakers in outreach events that promote healthy lifestyles. She also is a part of the BUSM Student Oncology Society and serves as a student leader.

“My goal is not only to become a skilled and culturally sensitive physician at the bedside, but also to become a curious and avid scientist who helps develop novel technologies to address today’s medical needs,” she said. “I am more motivated than ever to excel in my ongoing training to become a doctor and provide excellent patient care.”

CGIU gathers student leaders from around the world to address today’s global challenges. This year’s topics ranged from tackling the opioid crisis with Boston Medical Center’s Michael Boticelli and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to designing a healthier future with former President Bill Clinton.