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Way to Go: Matthew O'Connell

Matthew O'Connell, a junior at Commack High School,

Matthew O'Connell, a junior at Commack High School, developed software that relays pharmaceutical information using pictograms. He presented his work last month at the International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress in Dublin. Credit: Handout

A Commack High School junior has a remedy for those who have difficulty reading labels on medicine bottles.

Matthew O'Connell, 16, developed software that relays pharmaceutical information using pictograms. He presented his work last month at the International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress in Dublin.

The Java-based program is designed to help pharmacists communicate with patients who speak a different language or have difficulty understanding the literature that accompanies some medications. The software soon will be available on the federation's website, for free to nonprofit organizations.

"I developed the software to fill a need," said O'Connell, who estimated he spent 300 hours making it. "I love computer science, and this software is something people truly need, so that's what drew me to it."

The opportunity came about through Commack research teacher Richard Kurtz, who has a working relationship with Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, O'Connell said. The hospital supports pictogram use in the pharmaceutical field.

O'Connell is a member of his school's literary magazine and wrestling, computer science, math and chess teams. He also enjoys creating video games.

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