Canadaâ€™s youth bring real-life science innovations to life as nine regional winners head to national competition
May 2, 2012 by admin
SBCC National Awards ceremony:
Tuesday, May 8, 1 pm EDT, National Research Council Headquarters, Ottawa
TORONTO, ON, May 1, 2012 â€“ After months of preparation, research and collaboration with top university mentors, an elite group of 13 high school whiz kids from across the country will be in Ottawa May 7-8 competing for Canadaâ€™s ultimate student biotech science prizes in the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC).
The National SBCC Awards ceremony will be held Tuesday May 8, 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.
Toronto-area Student, 16, Uses Supercomputer to Invent New Drug Cocktail to Fight Cystic Fibrosis, Wins Top Prize in National Science Challenge
June 20, 2011 by admin
Greater Toronto Area, Greater Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg students win top national honours for high school biotechnology projects
While many 16-year-olds are content with PlayStation, Toronto-area student Marshall Zhang used the Canadian SCINET supercomputing network to invent a new drug cocktail which could one day help treat cystic fibrosis.
The Grade 11 student at Bayview Secondary School in Richmond Hill so impressed eight eminent scientists at the National Research Council Canada laboratories in Ottawa they awarded him first prize today in the 2011 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada.
June 17, 2011 by admin
Montreal: Students find vegetable-based stabilizers to remove animal ingredients from sorbet
Greater Toronto: Toronto student â€œhacksâ€ supercomputer network to find cure for CF
Manitoba: Grade 12 student opens door to treatment of incurable leukemia
Saskatchewan Science Prodigy, 14, Astonishes Canadaâ€™s Scientific Elite with Research on Crop-Killing Disease, Wins National Biotech Competition
April 27, 2010 by admin
News Release – Contact: Mr. Terry Collins, +1-416-878-8712; +1-416-538-8712; email@example.com
For release: 1 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, April 27, 2010
At 1 p.m. EDT, Tuesday April 27, Canadaâ€™s top student projects in biotechnology research will be announced at National Research Council headquarters, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa. Media are invited to attend the announcement in person or via teleconference (dial 1-303-664-6043, conference ID 8309014). Short, informal descriptions of each project are available online at http://sanofibiotalentchallenge.ca
- Youngest-ever finalist at national level event takes 1st Place Prize
- Students from Saskatoon, Guelph, Fort St. John, Ste-Foy, Winnipeg and Ottawa collect prizes in Canada-wide high school competition
- Judged by eminent experts at National Research Council, Ottawa
Research by a 14-year-old science prodigy from Saskatoon into the molecular fingerprint of a disease that has devastated lentil crops in Canada, Asia and Africa has earned the top national prize of the 2010 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge (SABC).
April 22, 2010 by admin
Ovarian cancer is the most serious of all gynecological cancers. Over 2500 Canadian women are diagnosed every year and every year 1,700 women succumb to this disease.
Like many cancers, ovarian cancer involves the inexplicable runaway growth of blood vessels and cells. Finding a way to slow or stop that runaway growth is something that fascinated and challenged Guelph’s Brian Krug.
After extensive review of scientific literature, Brian learned that catechin, a plant compound found in green tea, is known to inhibit cell growth and has had some positive results on other cancers.
Brian tested the effectiveness of various concentrations of catechin on rats with ovarian cancer. After careful measurements of the tumours, blood vessels and other indicators, he discovered the highest doses of catechin increased the growth of cancer cells, something which had not been seen before.
“I was very surprised to learn that high doses of catechin could have opposite effects from low doses in regards to blood vessel growth,” he says.
However he did determine that lower doses — 20 mg of catechin per kg of body weight (one fifth of the highest doses tested) — do indeed have preventative effects for ovarian cancer and could be useful in the treatment of advanced tumors.
Destined for medical research, Brian says the competition has been an excellent preparation for university and a future career in research.
April 22, 2010 by admin
At just 14, Rui Song has become a fixture on the winnersâ€™ list in the Saskatchewan regional SABC.
While still at Greystone Heights Public School, she won the Junior Division twice â€“ in 2008 and 2009 â€“ and the streak continued this year, Ruiâ€™s Grade 9 year at Walter Murray Collegiate Institute.
Her winning project was an effort to find molecular markers that can tell the difference between two closely related types of the fungus Colletotrichum truncate (Ct), that attacks lentil crops.
Though almost identical genetically, one race attacks lentils far more aggressively, causing 50% losses in some areas.
A genetic method of differentiating the two races will save time and money for agricultural researchers, allowing rapid evaluation of Saskatchewan lentil fields to warn farmers about the race of Ct in their area, while assisting efforts to develop resistant lentil varieties.
Rui said that while her project did not uncover the definitive identifier that solves the Ct riddle, her research into 50 of the 2,000 potential genetic markers provided a promising direction for more detailed research in future.
And for Rui Song, thereâ€™s always next year. â€œI love the field of molecular genetics and this competition provides a unique opportunity for someone like me to do high-level research guided by mentors who are some of the best minds in their field.â€
April 22, 2010 by admin
Coffee extract offers new potential treatment for Alzheimer’s, Quebec teens show
The number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease may double to 1 million by 2025, according to predictions.
That’s motivation enough for two science prodigies from Ste. Foy to test a new treatment based on a coffee extract called SIG 1012.
One cause of Alzheimer’s is thought to be an excess of phosphate attached to a protein that forms an important part of brain and nerve tissue.
Through a series of complex tests, Reda Bensaidane and Alexandre Lemieux, both 16, determined that the coffee extract reduced the amount of phosphate attached to the proteins, opening the door to a potential new Alzheimer’s treatment.
Challenges were many: Alex and Reda attend different schools (Jean-Eudes and Ã‰cole Secondaire Les Compagnons-de-Cartier, respectively), and a 30-minute drive separates their homes.
One of the best parts of SABC was the judging process, they said, and the opportunity to discuss their projects with experts in the field. “The questions they ask are really interesting and sometimes lead to discussions where there is no good or bad answer,” says Reda.
Both teens say they are destined for careers in medicine or medical research. “This experience gave us a heads up to what is waiting for us. And we love it.”
April 22, 2010 by admin
When most people think about the impact of climate change on Canadaâ€™s Arctic biodiversity they think about the plight of the polar bears. Adrian Howie thinks about the other end of the food chain â€“ Arctic algae.
His interest began with an investigation into the effect of increased carbon dioxide levels on microalgae, a project that won 2nd place in last yearâ€™s Nova Scota regional SABC.
This year, the Grade 11 student at Citadel High School, Halifax, identified compounds in various Arctic algae species that can benefit human health, winning the chance to represent his province at the 2010 national finals.
â€œClimate change is having profound impacts on the Arctic environment,â€ said Adrian, 17. â€œWe donâ€™t really know what affect the warming oceans will have on Arctic algae so we should be moving quickly to identify species that can benefit humanity before the environment is permanently altered.â€
Working with mentor Dr. Stephen Ewart of the NRC Institute for Marine Biosciences in Halifax, Adrian tested 10 Arctic algae species for compounds with health-promoting properties — antioxidants, anti-diabetics, immunomodulators, anti-inflammatories and anti-carcinogens.
The tests revealed four compounds with the potential for health benefits as well as one extract that affects both the nervous system and heart function. Experiments on cancer cells and zebra fish discovered two species of algae with the ability to kill cancer cells while not harming healthy cells.
Says Adrian: â€œWith so many positive results from such a small number of species, I think this is an area that definitely deserves further study before we start to lose some of these potentially valuable resources.â€
April 22, 2010 by admin
The camelina plant has seemed to many North Americas nothing more than an invasive weed.
Taylor Henkelman, of Swan River, Manitoba, however, sees a valuable resource.
Camelina is drought resistant, doesn’t mind the cold, needs virtually no pesticides to thrive, crowds out weeds and could have a variety of uses as an edible oil with high nutritional and other health benefits and / or as a bio-fuel.
Taylor, 15, a Grade 10 student at Swan Valley Regional Secondary School earned a ticket to the 2010 SABC national finals by examining the potential of camelina oil as a coolant in electrical transformers.
Today the majority of transformers are cooled by a nasty mix of petroleum products and harmful chemicals – though many companies are beginning to switch to soy oil as an eco-friendly alternative.
Soybeans don’t grow well in northern Manitoba, however, and are relatively expensive. Taylor decided to test oil from camelina, under the mentorship of Ralph Wegner, an engineer at Carte International of Winnipeg, which makes electrical transformers.
Transformer coolant oils need to resist electrical arcing.
Says Taylor: “We placed two electrodes fairly close together in the oil and ran electricity into them. We kept increasing the voltage to see if the oil was sufficiently resistant (to arcing).”
More tests are needed but Taylorâ€™s results were promising and he plans further tests to see how it stands up to the cold.
Teens find a drug used to prevent organ transplant rejection may help ex-soldiers with stress disorder
April 22, 2010 by admin
For the first 11 years of his school life, Zachary Quinlan had never had much time for science. Heâ€™d never entered a science fair or competition, his interest limited to getting good grades in his science courses.
â€œMy twin brother, Joshua, was always the science guy,â€ says Zachary, 17. â€œIâ€™m more interested in writing and communications â€“ Iâ€™ve always wanted a career in public relations.â€
All that changed last year when Zachary and his friend Andrew Lynch, looking for a challenge to enliven their final year at Bishops College High School in St. Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland, entered the SABC. They investigated whether the drug Rapamycin, normally used to help prevent the bodyâ€™s rejection of organ transplants, could help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Zachary became interested in treating PTSD because â€œit is a very common disorder often hidden in the shadows,â€ particularly in his province, which has the highest per capita enrolment in the armed forces.
The studentsâ€™ tested rapamycin as a possible PTSD treatment through experiments on lab rats to measure their levels of hyperarousal, a symptom of PTSD that can cause reduced pain tolerance, anxiety, an exaggerated response to sudden noise, insomnia and fatigue. They found that rapamycin dramatically reduced the rats’ levels of hyperarousal.
â€œOverall, this research suggests that rapamycin might be used in the future as a treatment for people suffering from PTSD,â€ said Zachary.
â€œI fell in love with everything about it,â€ he said of the SABC experience, â€œthe reading, the laboratory experiments, working with our mentor, presenting the results to the judges.â€
As for whether it suggests a future in science for the young researcher, Zachary is not so sure, â€œbut after this experience, Iâ€™d like to do PR for a major laboratory or science project.â€