In October 2010, when most of his fellow high school seniors were focusing on college applications, Nebraska native Daniel Schlessinger was refining another important document: a U.S. patent application.
It started when, at age 12, Daniel had put lip balm on his dry, cracked palms and noticed improvement but not healing. He asked his father, a dermatologist, why the balm worked better than hand lotion but neither fixed his problem entirely.
The answer was complex — so complex that Daniel and his father, Joel Schlessinger, discovered there were no existing products available to solve it. The pair decided to make something themselves.
Daniel worked alongside his father and his grandfather, a physical chemist, throughout high school, testing products and visiting factories to choose a producer. Advanced science classes helped him gain a better understanding of the experimental side of things as the team worked through 54 formulas to create the balm. He even helped negotiate the production details, sitting in on meetings with manufacturers, chemists and Food and Drug Administration officials when he was only 16.
College visits were scheduled to coincide with business meetings in Chicago, and Daniel was eventually accepted into Northwestern’s seven-year Honors Program in Medical Education. Now a freshman, Daniel hands out samples of FixMySkin Healing Balm — a salve to treat dry skin, chapped lips and other conditions — to friends and neighbors in Elder Hall.Tell us what you think. E-mail comments or questions to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.