Gay Teen Science Genius Jack Andraka Honored by the Vatican

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 2.27.27 PMJack Andraka, the 16-year-old openly gay science prodigy who developed a groundbreaking new way to test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer, was honored last week with an award at the Vatican for his outstanding achievements. WBAL News interviewed Andraka about his thoughts on receiving an award from the Catholic Church.

"It's really amazing to be recognized by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist. I mean this would be unheard of just a few years ago. To be a part of this bridge of progress is really amazing." Andraka told WBAL News.

"It just shows how much the world has grown to accept people that are gay and are LGBT. It's really amazing."

Andraka received the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award, which recognizes youth who are positive role models and outstanding in their field. Currently he is on a trip to Berlin promoting "open access" to taxpayer-funded scientific and medical journal research. 


  1. bear says

    It is movement in tthe right direction! Congradulations to Jack Andraka. May he have many more brilliant ideas in the future!

  2. Zlick says

    Huzzah and Amazing. Especially considering that the award is not just for excellence in a field, but for being a positive role model. For the Vatican to make such an award to a gay man is indeed remarkable and encouraging.

  3. says

    I love his statement! For those who kept saying his sexuality is irrelevant (in response to the closeting 60 Minutes profile), it isn’t . And he’s the first one to understand that. Bravo, Jack, for your accomplishments as a scientist and as a gay role model.

  4. Jerry says

    @Danny: Those Orthodox Christians up in Russia already have plenty to crap in their pants about. Their hundreds of years of pogroms against Jews and Roma have been exposed, and their recent condoning of violent acts against Russian LGBTs has not gone unnoticed. @Gregory: the Vatican knows exactly what it’s doing- those Catholic coffers are getting mighty low!

  5. Francis says

    The Vatican may not have known Jack was gay, who knows? I doubt in any case Jack received this award with his sexuality being relevant in the minds of the Vatican but, regardless, it’s still a big deal that: Jack Andraka, a 16 year old gay science genius was honored by the Vatican and named a role model…by the VATICAN. Plus, there aren’t very many out major people within the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) so Jack is really breaking down barriers. He’s receiving so much attention for his pancreatic invention and his sexuality isn’t a big deal or being used as an attack against him in any way—that’s progress.

  6. atomic says

    He’s 16. If history is any indication, that means at least half the Vatican not only knows he’s gay, they’re fantasizing about it.

  7. greg says

    Congrats to this young man. Hopefully this gives gay teens struggling with themselves and their place in the world a new hopeful perspective. At 16, I would have longed for a role model like Jack.

  8. m says

    Jack makes me feel so much better about the world we live in. he’ brilliant and humble. he cares about other people and want’s to make a difference in people lives. he’s the real deal. the recognition by the vatican is actually pretty astute. especially when you consider that most people younger than 25 are fine with being gay. if the catholic church hopes to continue to exist in the future how can they ignore the opinions of the very people who determine that future. jack is deserving of every award. the vatican’s award is only one of many.

  9. Bernie says

    this is such a heart warming story on so many levels; a gay teen being recognized by the pope is beyond belief!

  10. Robert says

    Forget the buff models & actors with their rippling abs and all that mess….
    THIS is the role model our gay youth need today!

  11. Marilyn says

    The Vatican isn’t giving him an award for being sexually attracted to other men. The award is for an actual scientific accomplishment.

    It’s ridiculous to imply that his sexuality is in any way connected to the award. His sexuality had nothing to do with what he’s accomplished.

    It’s very depressing to think that people can be so fixated on their sexuality that it becomes the primary way they identify themselves or that they are identified by others.

    Heterosexuals don’t list their sexuality (or the sexuality of fellow heterosexuals) as a chief characteristic to qualify their accomplishments.

    The accomplishments of people who are attracted to members of the same gender aren’t related to their sexual preferences or yours. Gay people didn’t invent these tests, Jack Andraka did, and not because he’s gay, it’s because he’s smart.

    Don’t you think people who are attracted to other people of the same gender can be intelligent?

    Why would you diminish another person’s actual accomplishments by describing them as a “gay” scientist (or athlete, or whatever) thereby reducing them to being an extension of your own sexual preferences, as though you somehow share in their accomplishments?

    Do you also fixate on the accomplishments of people with your hair color or who are also right or left handed?

    Move beyond the need to make someone’s sexuality the most important and interesting thing about them.

    It’s dumb.