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SoCalBio Announces Regional BioGENEius Student Challenge Winner for Bioscience Innovation

May 14, 2019 GMT


The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio), the trade association for the bioscience and digital health industries in Greater Los Angeles, today announced its selection of Nadia Ansari, a 9 th -grade student at Sage High School in Newport Coast (Orange County, CA), as winner of the 2019 Southern California BioGENEius Challenge.

Held in partnership with the Biotechnology Institute, the Challenge enables high school students to compete and be recognized for outstanding research and innovation in the biotechnology field.

As the winner of SoCalBio’s 2019 Southern California BioGENEius Challenge, Ms. Ansari will receive a scholarship from SoCalBio to attend the  2019 BIO International Convention in Philadelphia. At the convention, she will have an opportunity to interact with the bioscience industry’s top innovators, as well as compete on a larger scale against students from across the U.S., Canada and Germany in the Biotechnology Institute’s International BioGENEius Challenge.


Ms. Ansari’s project focuses on Photobiomodulation (PBM) as a potential therapy for peripheral neuropathy – a painful degenerative disease that affects an estimated 600 million people worldwide. Her research identified a gene (mpv17) that may help PBM regrow and restore function to sensory nerves. During experimentation, she showed that nerve fiber growth increased 536 percent when the mpv17 gene was present.

Ms. Ansari’s project was selected at the 2019 California Science Fair by a SoCalBio panel of judges including A. Stephen Dahms, PhD (SoCalBio Workforce and Talent Development Evangelist); Dwain Morris-Irvin, PhD (President, Innovest Global, Biotechnology Division); Andrew Norris, PhD (Founder, BCN Biosciences); and Shahira Badran (Educator, Los Angeles Valley College).

“Ms. Ansari’s project was selected because of its innovative approach using light to modulate biological conditions,” said Dr. Dahms, who chaired the SoCalBio panel of judges. ”Her research not only identifies the precise mechanism of action for PBM’s role in re-growing nerves, but also opens the door to a potential treatment for peripheral neuropathy without reliance on opioids as pain killers.”


Second-place went to Elisha Johnston, a 10 th grader from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (Los Angeles County, CA) for his research titled “ Developing a Novel Physiologically Relevant Model to Study Cartilage Regeneration.” He was followed by third-place winner Sasha Ronaghi, an 11 th grader from Sage High School (Orange County, CA) for his project titled “ Using Machine Learning and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy to Analyze the Effects on Antibiotics on P. Aeruginosa.” Fourth place went to Asna Tabassum, an 11 th grader at Ruben S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills (Riverside County, CA) for her project titled “ In-Silico Analysis of Angiotensin Receptor Blocker Affinity to Polymorphic Angiotensin T1 Receptor to Customize Therapy.” Fifth place went to Portola High School in Irvine (Orange County, CA) 9 th grader Sabreen Alam for her project titled “ Effects of Mechanical Deformation of Collagen Direction and Proliferation.”

“The 2019 Southern California BioGENEius Challenge featured some of our region’s most remarkable high school student researchers,” added SoCalBio President and CEO Ahmed Enany. “SoCalBio is pleased to provide these talented young minds an opportunity to showcase their original research and advance their development as the next-generation of scientists. We are all very proud to have Ms. Ansari represent Southern California at the International BioGENEius Challenge in Philadelphia, and we wish her the best of luck.”

Winners of the International BioGENEius Challenge will be announced during the June 4 th  keynote address at the 2019 BIO International Convention in Philadelphia.

Follow the BioGENEius Challenge:  Throughout the challenge on Twitter at @BiotechInstitute and use hashtag #BioGENEius.

About SoCalBio:

SoCalBio is a nonprofit, member-supported trade association that promotes bioscience research, development, manufacturing, job creation and overall economic growth in the Greater Los Angeles region. The Council’s programs help local firms gain access to capital, potential partners and business support services. The annual SoCalBio Investor & Partnership Conference has grown to become the region’s premiere showcase for emerging life-science companies and technologies. SoCalBio also promotes technology transfer and workforce training, while informing policy makers and the public at-large about the benefits of the region’s life-science industry. More information about SoCalBio is available at www.socalbio.org.

About the Biotechnology Institute

The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. The Biotechnology Institute’s BioGENEius Challenges encourage students to apply their scientific knowledge to solve some of society’s most pressing issues through biotechnology, allowing them to see the tremendous potential they have to make change in the world For more information, visit  www.biotechinstitute.org.

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SOURCE: Southern California Biomedical Council

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 05/14/2019 01:06 PM/DISC: 05/14/2019 01:06 PM