Ian Cheong, 2008 Copper Black winner

The Mensa Foundation recognized Ian Cheong of Baltimore, Md., as the 2008 recipient of the Copper Black Award, given annually for exceptional creativity and problem solving. Cheong is honored for his discovery of a "cancer bullet" that can strike and destroy malignant tumors without toxicity to outlying tissue.

"The Copper Black Award is presented to spotlight those that have shown incredible inventions and high-level thinking, and the judges felt that Ian’s discovery was a clear winner for this award," said Dr. Harry Ringermacher, chairman of the Copper Black Award Selection Committee. "His discovery has been referred to as the 'holy grail' of oncology, and we are honored to present him with the Copper Black Award."

Cheong discovered a novel protein, produced by an anaerobic bacterium that resides in oxygen-depleted tissue, that disintegrates lipostructures. He then thought of the idea that these lipostructures, filled with chemotheraputic toxins, could be introduced in the body, following the bacterium. The protein would rupture the lipostructure and release the toxins inside the tumor only, thereby destroying the malignancy. The discovery has yet to undergo human testing, but has been tested in mice and found to have completely destroyed tumors in 60 percent and have reduced tumor growth in all.

The Copper Black Award was named after the late Ms. Copper Black, a Mensa member who greatly valued creativity. In her will, she left a legacy by funding a special annual award to recognize an outstanding creative achievement by a member of American Mensa. The award includes a plaque and $500. Cheong is the seventh Mensa member to receive this award.

Photo caption: Ian Cheong (right) and Bill Baker, Maryland Mensa LocSec.