California Students Sweep International BioGENEius Award Competition

Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:37pm EDT

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California Students Sweep International BioGENEius Award Competition

The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio) congratulates California high school students who dominated the 2013 International BioGENEius Award Competition, held this week in tandem with the International BIO Convention in Chicago. The annual competition is staged by the Biotechnology Institute in collaboration with regional trade organizations (including SoCalBio) from around the world. The goal is to honor and draw attention to outstanding research in biotechnology performed by high school students.

The winner of the 2013 Challenge is Natalie Ng from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. Ms. Ng won the top prize of $7,500 for her research on breast cancer and biomarkers.

Second place went to SoCalBio's nominee to the Challenge -- Jiho Park from University High School in Irvine -- Mr. Park earned a cash prize of $5,000 for research that employs molecular dynamic simulations to improve understanding of aromatase catalysis, while also identifying druggable sites on the aromatase enzyme.

The third place award went to Eric Chen from Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego. Mr. Chen took home $2,500 for research that employs computer modeling for the development of a new anti-flu medicine.

“SoCalBio is proud to partner with Biotechnology Institute to support science education and the next generation of U.S. researchers," said SoCalBio President & CEO Ahmed Enany. "I want to thank the SoCalBio panel of judges who helped select some of the best Southern California high school students to compete for the prestigious U.S. award and ultimately the International BioGENEius Challenge."

A panel of judges assembled by SoCalBio selected Mr. Park to represent Southern California from a pool of nearly 1,800 high school student researchers; each had previously submitted a research project at one or more science fairs held in Los Angeles or Orange Counties. Mr. Park competed in the U.S. BioGENEius Challenge held in Chicago earlier this week, and was one of the top 10 U.S. competitors nominated to compete for the International Challenge, where he placed second.

The SoCalBio judging committee included Gerrit Brand, MD of BionCR Development Inc (Irvine); A. Stephen Dahms, PhD of SoCalBio; Naresh Menon, PhD of ChromoLogic (Pasadena); and Dan Woods, PhD of Inscent (Irvine).

"Our judging committee members and everyone at SoCalBio are amazed at the quality and technical proficiency of the biotech projects submitted by many of the local high school researchers,” said Dr. Dahms who chaired SoCalBio’s judging panel. "SoCalBio also applauds the guidance of high school faculty members who contributed to each student's innovation and productivity."

Robert Greenberg, MD, PhD, SoCalBio Chairman and President/CEO of Second Sight Medical Products, added, “California's sweep at the International Challenge is a timely reminder to state policy makers that investing in human capital is the key to keeping California a unique, leading hub for high-tech and bioscience innovation. STEM education, in particular, is a key factor to achieve economic success.”

About the Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio):

The Southern California Biomedical Council is a nonprofit, member-supported trade association that supports and promotes life-science research, development, manufacturing, job creation and overall economic growth in the six counties of the Greater Los Angeles region (Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Riverside and San Bernardino). 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. SoCalBio is open to membership by firms and organizations engaged in life-science technology development and commercialization. More information is available at

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. For more information, visit

Media Contact for SoCalBio:
ExcelPR Group
Erik Deutsch, 323-851-2300 x112
Contact for the Biotechnology Institute:
Janelle Curtis, PhD, VP

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