TODAY | March 22, 2014
>>> this next story is incredible. the flight against the flu is getting help from an unlikely person. a teenager making waves in the scientific world and giving hope to anyone that's battled the flu.
>> walking to his southern california high school , 17-year-old eric chin is a science celebrity.
>> you can only imagine what he's going to do. we know it's going to be great.
>> it started early in life. eric was obsessed with legos and any other toy he could take apart and put back together.
>> he was a very curious boy from a very young age. always asking why.
>> a couple years ago, that curiosity matured into a passion for fight flu outbreaks.
>>> i thought we have this urgent need for new medicine.
>> eric needed a lab to do research. at his age it wasn't easy but he eventually found a place here at the university of california san diego .
>> with help from trusting professors eric developed an innovative approach that marries computer based research with good old fashioned lab work. before long he made an impressive discovery.
>> this is the protein. i found the small molecule .
>> the molecule when bound with the protein can stop the virus.
>> we have a good start in what could be potential new treatments for influenza.
>> eric showed off research at google's i science fair where he beat out thousands for the grand prize earning a scholarship and grand price.
>> it was pursuing the science. he was so passionate about what he did.
>> eric hopes his search can expand beyond the flu.
>> diseases killing lots of people. if i can speed up measures of live saving measures, that's a hope of mine. . eric won two more contests earning $200,000 in scholarship money. a prodigy turned science celebrity now fighting the flu for everyone. joe friar, nbc news, san diego .