A Port Washington native who was born with a spinal disorder that forced him to undergo more than a dozen surgeries growing up will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House Monday to present a new type of spinal implant he invented that could help children with his condition.
Harry Paul, 18, who attends Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, is among 100 students from across the nation -- and the only one from Long Island -- selected to participate in the fifth annual White House Science Fair. The event honors students who have won regional and national competitions in science, technology, engineering and math.
"I am absolutely thrilled," Paul said Friday. "I always love to talk about my project and now I get to do that in front of the president and his advisers."
Paul was born with congenital scoliosis, a curvature of the spine caused by vertebrae that are not properly formed. In young children, the condition can impede the development of vital organs. As a child, Paul endured 16 surgeries as doctors inserted increasingly longer titanium rods at least twice a year to help his spine grow straight.
Three years ago, Paul began developing a spinal implant that expands over time, lengthening the time young patients can go between surgeries.
He created a 3-D simulation of the human spine and tested the device with engineers at K2M, a Virginia-based medical device company. A patent for the implant is pending.
The project won him about $20,000 in scholarships last year at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.
Paul graduated last year from Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington. He is a freshman at Tufts, studying biomedical engineering and public health.
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Politically active on campus, Paul said he is interested in the intersection of science and public healthpolicy.
"I hope I can inspire others to pursue science and technology research," Paul said. "I know how rewarding it can be."