Anvita Gupta, a 12th grade student from Scottsdale, Arizona received top prize for the Sanofi BioGENEius Global Healthcare Challenge and Han Jie Wang a grade 11 Vancouver, BC student took top honour in the Global Environment Challenge this week in Philadelphia. The poster presentation and pitch to the judges on Tuesday was the final step in a process that Canadian, U.S., and German high school students go through to claim international recognition and the cash prize that comes with it.
The student competitors were evaluated on the quality of their research, their presentations, and their ability to handle questions about their research. It wasn't enough to be scientifically sound, as each student’s research was also judged on the potential for commercial and practical applications. Anvita's project 'Novel Therapeutics for Genetic and Infectious Diseases: Drug Discovery Targeting Intrinsically Disordered Proteins', uses bioinformatics and AI to help speed up the process for drug research and discovery.
Working on such a major project can be a challenging couple of years for high school students as they have to find a University mentor and then pursue research that takes up much of the time that might otherwise be spent with friends or with some of the usual high school activities. Talking to the competitors over the years though, I've found they have a personal drive that keeps them focused and more than makes up for some of the time away from friends and sometimes even family activities.
Here's the conversation
I had with Anvita.
I'll talk with the Canadians later.