WATCH: Meet Jack Andraka, Gay Boy Wonder Who Invented Award-Winning Cancer Test

In June, we introduced you to 16 year-old Jack Andraka, the gay teenager who invented an award-winning, affordable test that detects pancreatic cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. On this week’s 60 Minutes, Morley Safer sat down with Andraka to talk about his test and what it’s like to be one of the most influential teenagers on the planet.

“Really, I don’t think it’s that I’m really smart,” Andraka told Safer. “I mean, I know people that are way smarter than me. You can be a genius, but if you don’t have the creativity to put that knowledge to use, then you just have a bunch of knowledge and nothing else. I mean, like, then you’re just as good as my smartphone.” Even if science is Andraka’s best subject, he also clearly skilled at reading.

Last year, Adraka beat 1,500 adolescents to win the $100,000 grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering fair. His reaction to winning the award is a textbook example of a “gay panic.”


“I wasn’t expecting any awards there,” Andraka said. “Then when I won, I was just flabbergasted, I was like freaking out, I was like, ‘What! Me?’”

Since then, Andraka’s test continues to show promise, and Andraka hopes to license it to a pharmaceutical company soon. But he doesn’t want to be, as he puts it, a lab rat who performs the clinical trials himself. He explained to Safer, “I kind of want to be able to come up with a new idea and then really just move on to the next idea and have other people do the repetitive trials.”

These days, Andraka still attends public high school outside of Baltimore, but his attendance has taken a nosedive recently. He’s busy traveling the world to give lectures and attend conferences, not to mention all the face time he’s been getting with the First Family. In the past year, Andraka as been invited to the White House four times.

Although the 60 Minutes piece never addressed Andraka’s sexuality, the teenage whiz has not shied away from discussing it elsewhere. Four months ago, when an interviewer from the London Evening Standard asked whether he was into girls and drinking, Andraka replied, “I’m gay, so no. And I wouldn’t know where to find alcohol.”

Take a note, gays. In more ways than one, Jack Andraka is the future.

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  • Scribe38

    I am in love with this kid! So freaking proud of him! Looking forward to see what he will do in the future. Hope he takes a look that that Hiv virus. I wonder how long it will take for historians to try to white wash the fact that he is gay.

  • Mr. E. Jones

    What an adorable kid 8^)

  • doug105

    @Scribe38: Already started as someone else noted on towelroad.

    I saw this interview last night on 60 Minutes and figured the kid was gay. I was wondering, well expecting, 60 Minutes to avoid that issue but at one point they said to him, about a teacher who was fuming at him, “as if you had a Playboy”.

    It’s like, no, 60 Minutes, not every boy reads Playboy.

    POSTED BY: MICHAEL | OCT 14, 2013 9:09:07 PM

  • Kieran

    Gay teenagers can use all the positive role models they can get, so how do you explain 60 Minutes failing to mention that Jack Andraka is openly gay? It’s not like this young man hasn’t decided to come out. He is proudly gay. Was Morly Safer afraid he might offend the homophobes in the audience by pointing out that it may be a gay kid who discovers a cure for cancer?

  • Scribe38

    @doug105: He is the nicest young man. I sent him a twitter message thanking him and letting him know he was a very good role model and he replied offering to Skype with my medical class. He is the real thing. Classy guy all the way

  • Scribe38

    @Kieran: Not a cure, but early testing for a disease that is normally only discovered when it is too late for a lot of treatments to work. But you’re main point is pretty correct.

  • tardis

    Good for him!

  • stranded


    If he was straight would 60 minutes find a way to mention he was straight? No, because his sexual preference has NOTHING to do with his scientific accomplishments, which the story was about.

    Stop looking to be offended.

  • jonjct

    The kid acting excited and running round the auditorium has nothing to do with “gay panic”. nothing. What is the author thinking? Also, I am embarrassed for the kid because he needs to tone it down. C’mon, people are cringing. that includes me. finally, exposing his personal preferences in this story is unnecessary. Nobody needs to know if he’s gay. I’m not saying hide it, it’s just not part of the story, and why should it be?

  • Polaro

    Yeah, +1 for our team.

  • Billysees

    Great story for everyone who admires exceptional achievement.

    That he’s gay makes it even more admirable.

  • AEH

    @jonjct: Okay. When you win a prestigious $100k award, you can school us on how to act excited like a “real man.”

  • jonjct

    AEH, ^ your words, not mine.

  • MK Ultra

    He is adorable. Good luck to him in the future (although i don’t think he’ll need it)
    Get down with your fabulous self, lil bro!

  • Stefano

    We need more of young man like him. The fact that he is gay is not important, it is what he found.

  • Stefano

    That is important.

Comments are closed.