For almost 30 years, over 6,000 remarkable high school students have taken part in the Sanofi Biogenius Canada, pushing the boundaries of science with cutting-edge projects that hold real-world, life-changing potential. Here are just some of the whiz kids who have taken part in years past – and the amazing discoveries that have since opened doors to exciting opportunities.

  • National Finals – Individual Competition
  • National Finals – Group Competition
  • Regional Competition Winners Lists


NATIONAL FINALS – INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION
CAROLINE HUANG
2021 NATIONAL CHAMPION (INDIVIDUAL)

Regional Competition: Southern Ontario and Greater Toronto
Project Title: Mimicking Nerve Regeneration with Slime Mold Through Percolation Theory
Mentor:
Abbey Park High School (Oakville, ON)

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Scientists have been fascinated by the cognitive abilities of slime mold in their natural environment. The cytoplasm forms nodal networks of protoplasmic tubes that guide and transport slime mold between food sources through morphogenesis. The growth of slime mold can be characterized by the extension of tendrils lead by the expansion of islands. This habituation method gives slime mold an uncanny intelligence, including the ability to distinguish where it has been, adapt to environmental challenges, and weigh risk factors. A distant but striking analogy can be made comparing neural growth-cone branching in neurogenesis with slime mold. Percolation theory deals with the probability of interconnectivity between the nodes of a network and will be used to prove the mathematical equivalency between the two biological systems. If the percolation threshold trends can be identified for both systems, then a percolation model for slime mold growth will be discovered to reproduce a neuronal network formation and can be applied to better understand the nervous system and nerve regeneration. This project aims to determine the accuracy of the analogy of slime mold neural pathways.

ALLISON ENGO
SECOND PLACE – NATIONAL FINALS (INDIVIDUAL)

Regional Competition: Québec
Project Title: Saved on the Fly
Mentor: Professor Paul Lasko (McGill University)
Marianopolis College (Westmount, QC)

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Fruit flies are ideal scientific models because of their short lifespan, flexible diet and human-like biological responses. 5% dietary acai was fed to stressed fruit flies to under 3 stress conditions: 2% H2O2 (acute stress); 14 days of age (natural chronic stress); and genetic deficiency of the natural antioxidant enzyme SOD2. 5 assays were used to measure biological effects: adult motility, longevity, ROS by-product, progeny migration and fertility. Acai demonstrated protective effects for acutely stressed flies in many health parameters – the greatest benefit being for their fertility. However, it had little to no benefit for chronic stress nor longevity.

AUNUM ENGO
THIRD PLACE – NATIONAL FINALS (INDIVIDUAL)

Regional Competition: Saskatchewan
Project Title: Downstream Targets of the p63 Gene and Their Roles in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Mentor: Dr. Julia Boughner (University of Saskatchewan)
Aden Bowman Collegiate (Saskatoon SK)

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Every day we are all unfortunately connected to the baneful phenomenon of cancer. Cancer is caused by abnormal gene mutations and dysregulated cell proliferation affecting more than 20,000 Canadians yearly. Specific cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer caused by unprotected sun radiation leading to mutations within squamous cells in the outermost layer of skin.

Last year my project investigated the transformation-related protein 63 (p63) and its downstream targets in developing animal faces to clarify human birth defects caused by misexpression of p63 and its gene regulatory network (GRN). This year, I am applying this knowledge towards cancer.

P63, expressed in epithelium, is fundamental to prenatal development of organs and without it, epithelium loses its integrity. With this loss, cells become unable to properly express the genes necessary for overall development. Additionally, functions of p63 include its role in apoptosis for which it is considered an oncogene. Conflicting reports state that p63 overexpression or underexpression leads to SCC, raising the question of how this gene potentially contributes to tumorigenesis, which is still incompletely understood. However, looking for protein expression within SCC tissue will allow for determination of how certain genes lead to misexpression. Therefore, I will probe for protein expression of P63 and its GRN in human oral SCC tissues. This novel experiment will help validate whether overexpression or underexpression occurs in SCC and how potential misexpression of p63 and its GRN contributes to SCC and may be targets for future therapeutic intervention.


NATIONAL FINALS – GROUP COMPETITION
Christopher Situ and Jason Ye
2021 NATIONAL CHAMPION (GROUP)

Project Title: Drug Docking for Prion Disease
Mentor: Dr. Lyudmyla Dorosh (University of Alberta)
Old Scona Academic (Edmonton AB)

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Our proposed investigations center around the usage of the molecule simulation progress Chimera and the ligand docking simulation program AutoDock Vina to simulate the binding of over 150 compounds with potential medical applications (compiled from various published research papers) onto the Human Prion Protein in the theoretical and experimental forms of its mutant E200K (where the glutamic acid on residue 200 is replaced with lysine) as well as its infectious misfolded Scrapie form. Based on the binding values received for the compounds on the three proteins, we then isolated the compounds with the greatest affinity for the proteins and conducted an in-depth analysis of the binding sites and binding residues of these compounds. These binding locations and residues could be further applied to discover or develop new compounds that are effective in either preventing the misfolding of the Human Prion Protein or even possibly curing those affected, which could both ideally save countless lives and increase our current understanding of the role of the prion protein in the body normally. Hence, we are excited to conduct and complete this project, and also to share our findings with the public through this exceptional opportunity.

Lastly, we believe that this project clearly intersects with the field of biotechnology as we are analyzing proteins found in humans with technology in pursuit of working towards developing possible products to help prevent or cure disease in these humans (a concept not entirely new either, as Gleevec can attest).

Tienlan Sun and Daniel Fan
SECOND PLACE – NATIONAL FINALS (GROUP)

Project Title: TeleAEye: Low-Cost Automated Eye Disease Diagnosis Using a Novel Smartphone Fundus Camera With AI
Mentor: Dr. Ipek Oruc (University of British Columbia)
Eric Hamber Secondary School (Vancouver BC)

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Currently, a billion people are living with vision impairment resulting from a lack of access to eye care. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only further compounded this issue. In-person meetings between doctors and patients have been restricted, visits by medical professionals to elderly care facilities have become dangerous and developing regions are no longer able to access mission doctors due to travel restrictions. These situations have created many unique needs for ophthalmological care.TeleAEye combines deep learning diagnosis software with a smartphone-based non-mydriatic fundus camera to combat the global lack of eye care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundus camera can function independently of eye doctors and does not rely on mydriatics, which require a prescription. With a total production cost of ~$10, the TeleAEye fundus camera will be accessible to a revolutionary amount of people. In addition to being low-cost, the camera is portable, allowing for transport to remote locations. The models were also enhanced using an original, experimental deep learning technique called “multi-step transfer learning”. With these properties, TeleAEye has the potential to combat the global lack of eye care as a tool for automated screening, telemedicine and fundus photography.

In the future, TeleAEye could also have immense implications in democratizing healthcare through the diagnosis of other diseases using fundus images (e.g., Alzheimer’s, autonomic dysreflexia), the extension of disease datasets to underrepresented minorities, and the expansion of eye care access to developing regions.


REGIONAL COMPETITIONS – COMPLETE WINNERS LIST
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Access our playlist on YouTube here.

ATLANTIC CANADA
First Place Tanish Bhatt Analyzing influenza vaccine effectiveness by aligning protein sequences of commonly circulating viruses and vaccine component strains Macdonald Drive Junior High
St. John’s, NL
Second Place Rakshit Galwa Assessing the impact of climate change-induced seawater inundation events on an agriculturally important soil bacterium Leo Hayes High School
Fredericton NB
Third Place Alexis Walker Physical growth in the larva stage of black soldier fly (BSFL) and mealworms: an observational analytical experimental study of protein, and uncover which replacement. Charlottetown Rural
Charlottetown, PE
QUEBEC
First Place Allison Engo Saved on the Fly Marianopolis College
Westmount QC
Second Place Morane Charbonneau Tique-Tac Tique-Tac Séminaire de Sherbrooke
Sherbrooke QC
Third Place Laurence Liang miRNA Discovery for COVID-19 Marianopolis College
Westmount QC
EASTERN ONTARIO AND THE OUTAOUAIS
First Place Albert Nitu scRNA-seq analysis of glial subtypes reveals therapeutic targets in Alzheimer’s Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Ottawa, ON
Second Place Vansh Seti A Novel Method to Predict Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Specificity Given the Epitope Sequence of an Antigen using Sequence2Sequnce Learning and Deep Learning Colonel By Secondary School
Ottawa, ON
Third Place Amy Bradbrook A literature review for ways to increase the immunogenicity and yield of a plant-based vaccine South Carleton High School
Richmond, ON
SOUTHERN ONTARIO AND GREATER TORONTO
First Place Caroline Huang Mimicking Nerve Regeneration with Slime Mold Through Percolation Theory Abbey Park High School
Oakville, ON
Second Place Neil Mitra A Graphene Oxide Integrated Paper Microfluidic Device for detecting and predicting Myocardial Infarctions Waterloo Collegiate Institute
Waterloo, ON
Third Place Abdulhakim Hussein Assessment of Induced programmed Necrosis on a PRK cell through insertion of a DNA Damaging agent in a Dengue Virus Virtual Learning Centre
Lindsay ON
MANITOBA
First Place Marissa Magsino Discovering the optimal environmental conditions to maximize the biodegration of polystyrene using Tenebriol Molitor St. Mary’s Academy
Narol, MB
Second Place TIE Sheen Dube Neutrophil-lymphocyte and platelet-lymphocyte ratios as prognostic factors after stereotactic radiation therapy for early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer St John Ravenscourt School
Winnipeg, MB
Second Place TIE Aieshini Udumullage Creating glowing bacteria: How different heat shock conditions effect the E.coli transformation efficiency Fort Richmond Collegiate
Winnipeg, MB
SASKATCHEWAN
First Place Aunum Abid Downstream Targets of the p63 Gene and Their Roles in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas Aden Bowman Collegiate
Saskatoon, SK
Second Place Jocelyn Pon Bioplastics: Production of Biofilms from Agricultural Products Centennial Collegiate
Saskatoon, SK
Third Place Affaan Abid Application of Spectral Analysis: A Novel Approach For Detecting Gastrointestinal Bleeding Aden Bowman Collegiate
Saskatoon, SK
ALBERTA
First Place Catalina Van der Raadt The effects of EGFR Mutations in Tumours on the Outcome of an Abscopal Effect Webber Academy
Calgary, AB
Second Place Phoebe Weng Genes Associated with Squamous Cell Carcinoma from the 3q 26-29 Human Chromosome Webber Academy
Calgary, AB
Third Place Jonathan Afowork Antiplasmodial and Ceremonial: A Rationale for Using Kebericho to Combat Malaria McNally High School
Edmonton AB
BRITISH COLUMBIA
First Place Margaret Krawciw A Study of the Growth and Interactions of Four Microalgae in the Presence of Varying Amounts and Types of Microplastics Mount Douglas Secondary
Victoria BC
Second Place Charlotte Quin Growth and Feed Consumption of Chicks Glenlyon Norfolk School
Victoria, BC
Third Place Justin Du EDIT Characteristics Generation of Canadian PV Arrays by Machine Learning David Thompson Secondary
Vancouver, BC