Ground-breaking research by a 17-year-old Coquitlam student who found a way to observe the effects of ethanol on early brain development in an intact and awake brain has earned him the top prize in the 2011 British Columbia sanofi-aventis BioTalent Challenge (SABC).
Grade 12 student Vincent Ye from Dr. Charles Best Secondary School whose research provided rare insight into the progression of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and a model that can be used in the future to further study how the brain is affected by ethanol exposure, won the top $3,000 regional prize. He will now compete for British Columbia at the national SABC competition.
SABC is a biotechnology competition for high school students held nation-wide, and coordinated in BC by LifeSciences British Columbia (LSBC) with financial support from Sanofi Pasteur, BioTalent Canada, and the Province of British Columbia's Year of Science initiative. Under the program, students must come up with a research project of their own design and work with a mentor in their community who provides expert advice and access to a real academic or industry lab.
Don Enns, President of LifeSciences British Columbia commented, "We are proud to be the lead organizer of SABC in BC, and a strong supporter of efforts such as this to encourage more students to consider scientific careers. The students in this competition represent some of the brightest young scientists in Canada, and I congratulate them all on their outstanding achievements."
Encouraged by his science teacher, Wooje Choi and under the guidance of his mentor Dr. Kurt Haas at the University of British Columbia, Vincent Ye had strong support for his project, and spent much of the summer in the lab doing his research. He commented, "The 2011 sanofi-aventis BioTalent Challenge was an unparalleled experience that gave me a hands-on glimpse of what life is like in the real world of biotechnology. Having the chance to work under the mentorship of Dr. Kurt Haas paved an unprecedented foundation of real science beyond just textbooks." Vincent added, "The competition allowed me to present my project to an esteemed panel of judges and outstanding peers. I will certainly be drawing many aspects from this experience as I move forward with my future endeavors."
Additional British Columbia results from the 2011 SABC were:
2nd place ($2,500): Kevin Oh, Meadowridge School, Maple Ridge for a project that successfully isolated a discriminate phenotype between HIV- and HIV+
3rd place ($2,000): Zi Wei Li, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, Vancouver for a discovery that can reduce the aggregation of a specific protein in diabetics.
4th place tie ($1,500): Yukai Hong, Lord Byng Secondary School, Richmond, for a project that provides further insights into why patients with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease....
and Carol Dou and Coco Ooi, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, Vancouver, for a project that inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells while also inducing cancer cell death.
All 14 regional winners will now present their projects for judging by a panel of experts at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Monday, May 9th.
LifeSciences British Columbia