David Thompson Student Wins International BioGENEius Challenge

Austin (Han Jie) Wang, a Grade 12 David Thompson student, has won a prestigious award for innovation in science.

The BioGENEius Challenge is the premier competition for high school students, which recognizes outstanding innovation in biotechnology. 

Judged by industry and academic experts, 28 finalists from across the US, Canada and Germany competed for top honours and cash prizes of $7,500 each.

Students have the opportunity to apply and compete for top honours in the Global Healthcare Challenge (Medical Biotechnology), the Global Sustainability Challenge (Agricultural Biotechnology) or the Global Environment Challenge (Industrial/Environmental Biotechnology)

After winning at the regional and national levels, Wang was awarded the Grand Prize for the Global Environment Challenge. Anvita Gupta's, Scottsdale AZwon the other top honour in the Innovation Global Healthcare Challenge.

Wang's project in the Global Environment Challenge (industrial & environmental biotech), titled, Identifying Genes with Roles in Power Output of Exoelectrogenic Bacteria in Microbial Fuel Cells, seeks to identify genes that help bacteria improve their ability to generate electricity in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs). The results of this research may eventually contribute to the commercialization of MFC technology.

"The BioGENEius Challenge highlights the breakthroughs made when we invest and encourage our younger generation to utilize their STEM education to pursue innovative research. It is amazing to see what these students are capable of when they apply their scientific knowledge to solve some of society's most pressing issues," said Seema Kumar, VP Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communications at Johnson & Johnson. "We are proud to be the exclusive sponsor of the new BioGENEius Global Healthcare Challenge, which is helping to accelerate the development of the next-generation of scientists by giving students an exciting and engaging setting to showcase their talents."

The International BioGENEius Challenge is one of the few international competitions to host student participants at a leading industry conference, allowing them to gain valuable insights from companies, scientists and innovators currently transforming the biotechnology landscape. 

The student competitors were evaluated on the quality of their research, their presentations and ability to handle questions regarding their research and general scientific knowledge. Moreover, each student's research was judged on the potential for its commercial and practical applications.

"These finalists are the future of the biotechnology industry. We are continually impressed by their commitment to solve complex problems," said Sanofi Pasteur Senior VP for R&D John Shiver, PhD. "Their research is creating breakthroughs that will not only help society but also show young students what they are capable of accomplishing."

Further reading about Austin and the award in the VANCOUVER SUN

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