A teenage pupil from Camps Bay High School is quickly gaining global recognition for creating a machine that can assist in diagnosing pneumonia. Storm Rhoda (18) has won multiple awards for his project, which is a machine-learning algorithm that identifies pneumonia in adult and paediatric patients.

He was also recently selected to represent South Africa at Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF); the biggest science expo held in the United States.

Storm’s project finished at the 52nd place in the world during the virtual Regeneron ISEF Virtual 2020 Expo in its Robotics and Intelligent Machines category. The project also received the official Intel ISEF 2020 Abstract and Certification, and was also approved by the Scientific Review Committee.

“The algorithm is embedded in a graphical user interface and uses a clinical algorithm to take patients’ symptoms into consideration to improve diagnostic predictions and creates a user-friendly tool for radiologists to use,” Rhoda said to News24.

Pneumonia is the sixth leading cause of premature death in South Africa, and is one of the leading causes of death in the world. “Radiological diagnosis is the most common way of diagnosing patients and radiograph qualities are easily compromised due to the sensitivity and specificity of diagnosis. Compromised X-rays make it difficult to establish a diagnosis,” Rhoda said. 

The machine works by distinguishing between lungs that are infected and those that are not functioning efficiently. Rhoda’s algorithm has a 90.3% accuracy rate in adults and 83.03% in paediatric patients.

“To have my work approved by the world’s biggest science expo was really exciting and a massive accomplishment,” he said.

Picture: Camps Bay High School/Facebook

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