3D Visualization of Drug Resistance in Malignant Tumours Wins Grade 12 Edmonton Scientist Entry to National SBCC 2014 Finals

Edmonton, AB, April 28, 2014 – Eighteen high-school students squared off in this year’s Alberta Regional 2014 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC), a biotechnology research competition that encourages students to pursue future studies and careers in the exciting field of biotechnology. Each of 12 teams presented their research and life-changing discoveries ranging from investigating diagnostic tools for the detection of Multiple Sclerosis, understanding hydrocarbon biodegradation by tailings pond microbial consortia in addition to exploring the microbial cause of Crohn’s disease.

All of the students are deserving of recognition for their efforts, however seven students have been named Alberta Regional winners.

Jessica Wickware of Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton won first place with a study titled “Tumour Origami: A Three-Dimensional Visualization of Drug Resistance in Malignant Tumours.” Dr. Ratmir Derda of the University of Alberta mentored Jessica throughout her research. Jessica will enter the national SBCC competition held at the headquarters of the National Research Council in Ottawa, on May 22, 2014, followed by the SBCC National Awards Ceremony, co-presented with the Partners In Research National Awards, on May 23.

Arjun Nair, a 17-year-old Calgary student from Webber Academy, took second place for his project titled “Investigating Novel Diagnostic Tools for the Detection of Multiple Sclerosis.” Arjun’s mentor was Dr. Wee Yong of the University of Calgary. Arjun participated in the SBCC 2013 and won first place with his futuristic study focused on research of developing a nano-bullet to defeat cancer.

Third place was awarded to Sujay Nagaraj a 16 year old student from Western Canada High School in Calgary. Sujay was mentored by Dr. John Kelly of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, who supported Sujay throughout his innovative project titled: “Synergistic Treatment of GBM BTSC’s through Growth Factor Stimulation and Anti-Neoplastic Therapy.”

Ali Haghani and Jack Du, grade 12 students from Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary, formed a team winning fourth place. Dr. Lisa Gieg, University of Calgary, mentored Ali and Jack throughout their exploration of the “Hydrocarbon biodegradation by tailings pond microbial consortia under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.”

Cash prizes were also awarded for the “Most Commercially Viable Project” and the “Best Elevator Pitch” as follows:

Congratulations to the team of Andrea Lin and Alice Xue for winning the Best Elevator Pitch prize. The team did an awesome job on communicating the market potential of the “The Microbial Cause of Crohn’s Disease.”

Fifth place was awarded to the team of Andrea Lin and Alice Xue both from Old Scona Academic High School in Edmonton. Dr. Christine Szymanski, from the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, mentored this team throughout their challenging research titled “The Microbial Cause of Crohn’s Disease.”

The fourth place team of Ali Haghani and Jack Du also won the prize for the Most Commercially Viable Project for having a project with the most commercial potential.

BioAlberta, the central voice and organizing hub for the life sciences industry in Alberta, has coordinated the SBCC competition for the past 14 years. According to Amanda Stadel, President of BioAlberta, “The students in this competition represent some of the brightest young scientists that will lead Alberta’s innovation and future discoveries. I congratulate them all on their outstanding achievements. Initiatives like these are integral in encouraging youth to consider science as a career path and in fostering new talent in the life sciences in Canada.”

About the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)

The Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) is a national biotechnology research competition that encourages high school and CEGEP students to pursue future studies and careers in the exciting field of biotechnology. Coordinated by Partners In Research, the initiative is sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Limited, Sanofi Canada, the Ontario Government (Ministry of Research & Innovation), York University, the National Research Council Canada/Conseil national de recherches Canada (NRC- CNRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (CIHR- IRSC) and Genome Canada.