Plano twins bring home $100K prize for schizophrenia research


A surprise party greeted Shriya and Adhya Beesam at Plano East Senior High when they returned to class Wednesday morning.

“We’re still just processing and taking everything in,” Adhya said.

The 16-year-old twins traveled to Washington D.C. to compete in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology over the weekend. There they won the $100,000 grand prize for their research on schizophrenia and better ways to diagnose the disease.

“What we really wanted to do was raise the discussion on mental illness,” Shriya said.

The sisters lost their uncle to schizophrenia years ago. Their uncle was misdiagnosed for several years before eventually being diagnosed as schizophrenic. The twins say the late diagnosis and delay of care contributed to his suicide.

“People diagnosed with schizophrenia are fifty percent more likely to commit or attempt suicide,” Shriya said.

The Beesams say the loss of the uncle served as motivation during their research and work.

“It was amazing after we won when a mother came up to me and thanked us for our work because her son has schizophrenia and she’s happy to see people talking about the disease,” Adhya said.

The Beesams created a new system for diagnosing the disease by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to assessing patients.

“We want to combine the MRIs and the psychological evaluations,” Adhya said.

The twins said their success is due to their hard work ethic and relentless curiosity, adding anyone can use that combination to succeed in life.

“It’s not about boy or girl, young or old you just have to go for it,” Shriya said.

The $100,000 will go towards the twins’ college education. Right now the sisters don’t know where they’ll go to for university, but they’re excited to continue their work wherever they go.

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