Canada’s youth bring real-life science innovations to life as 11 regional winners head to Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada national competition

20th annual SBCC National Awards take place in Ottawa on April 9 with the Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology

TORONTO, ON, April 5th, 2012 – After months of preparation, research and collaboration with top university mentors, an elite group of 11 high school whiz kids from across the country will be in Ottawa April 8-9 competing for Canada’s ultimate student biotechnology science prizes in the 2013 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC).

Over 4,500 young scientists have participated in the “Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada” since its inception 20 years ago. The SBCC varies from other science competitions as students are given access to high quality lab equipment and are paired with mentors. For the last 20 years, the competition has been giving aspiring young scientists the chance to develop research that can lead them towards a career in science, making it a win for all of those involved.

The National SBCC Awards ceremony will be held April 9, 1 pm EDT, at the National Research Council Headquarters, Ottawa, with the Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources Skills Development Canada as keynote speaker. The Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology will also be in attendance.

In total, judges chose nine cutting-edge biotechnology research projects from 123 projects presented by 208 high school and CEGEP students across Canada. Now in its 20th year, the SBCC gives young scientists access to university labs and academic mentors, encouraging the pursuit of future studies and careers in the country’s fast-growing biotechnology sector.

“The 20th anniversary is a huge milestone for the ‘Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)” said Mark Lievonen, President, Sanofi Pasteur Canada, which originally founded the event. “The competition has grown tremendously over the years, first starting as a side event to the international BIO conference in Toronto. Now having expanded Canada-wide, the SBCC gives aspiring young scientists the chance to develop research that can lead them towards a science career. Through our partnership, we’re able to nurture talented young Canadians to develop potentially commercial ideas.” Watch Mr. Lievonen’s video.

This year’s regional finalists:

  • British Columbia: Selin Jessa, 17, Grade 12, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School, Coquitlam, researched how genetic mutations naturally help some HIV patients escape symptoms. View the project profile.
  • Alberta: Arjun Nair, 16, Grade 11, Webber Academy, Calgary, aimed for an effective cancer-killing bullet made of gold nano-particles. View the project profile.
  • Saskatchewan: Saruul Uuganbayar, 17, Grade 12, Centennial Collegiate, Saskatoon, invented a molecular remedy for mutated cells with the dream of curing cancer. View the project profile.
  • Manitoba: Daniel Huang, 16, Grade 11, St. John’s Ravenscourt School, Winnipeg, discovered a potential new tactic to fight the world’s deadliest brain cancer. View the project profile.
  • Southwestern Ontario: Melanie Grondin, 17, Shawn Liu, 18, Vincent Massey Secondary School, Windsor, found a marker in medicine’s quest for the holy grail of leukaemia treatments: limitless supplies of healthy stem cells. View the project profile.
  • Greater Toronto: Lauren Chan, 17, Grade 12, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, described a potential new therapy to reduce the severity of diabetes.View the project profile.
  • Eastern Ontario: Adamo Young, 16, Grade 11, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ottawa, found that altering its nitrogen supply appears to tame a toxic fungus that ruins billions worth of grain worldwide. View the project profile.
  • Quebec: Eunice Linh You, 17, Grade 11, Laval Liberty High School, Laval, investigated how to potentially tailor a more effective stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s disease. View the project profile
  • Atlantic: Jared Trask, 18, Kaitlyn Stockley, 17, Grade 12, Holy Spirit High School, Conception Bay South (Newfoundland), demonstrated a novel idea to improve thick biofuels by adding a thinner made from fish oil. View the project profile.

The project finalists will be judged on April 8-9 at the Ottawa headquarters of the National Research Council by a panel of pre-eminent Canadian scientists:

  • Dr. Luis Barreto, MD, Chief Judge, Biotech Education Canada
  • Dr. Roman Szumski, Vice President Research, National Research Council, Canada
  • Dr. Paul Lasko, Scientific Director, Institute of Genetics, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Dr. Pierre Meulien, President, Genome Canada
  • Dr. Robert Tsushima, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Science, York University
  • Dr. Ron Pearlman, Associate Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation
  • Dr. Jerome Konecsni, President, Innovation Saskatchewan

The judge’s panel also includes Waterloo’s Janelle Tam, the 2012 national SBCC first prize winner. Last year she detailed the anti-aging potential of a nano compound found in wood pulp, capturing media attention in at least 36 countries. She aspires to begin studies at Princeton this fall.

In addition to their regional competition winnings, Canada’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place national winners will receive $5,000, $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively, with $500 prizes for honorable mention. A special $1,000 prize is awarded to the project deemed by the judges to have the greatest commercial value. The top two single person projects advance to the Sanofi-sponsored International BioGENEius Challenge to be held in Chicago, IL on April 21, in conjunction with the BIO Annual International Convention.

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 Bioscience Education Canada since its beginning in 1994, the initiative is supported by Sanofi Pasteur Limited, Sanofi Canada, Genzyme Canada, 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), York University, Genome Canada and the Government of Canada’s Youth Awareness program. Canada’s respected Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada has inspired counterpart competitions in the USA and Australia.

About Sanofi
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us