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Georgia Bio Selects Student Finalists in Research Competition

Thursday, April 5, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Angela King
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Atlanta, GA (April 5, 2012) – Georgia Bio has named two finalists and two runners up in the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge. Ten U.S. National finalists will be selected to join students from Canada and Australia to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge.  The U.S. National and International BioGENEius Challenges are competitions for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects.  
Finalists in the Georgia statewide competition include Aprotim Bhowmik, a sophomore at Parkview High School, Lilburn, Georgia, and Julia Abelsky, a junior at North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  Receiving Honorable Mention were Raja Selvakumar, a junior at Milton High School, Alpharetta, Georgia, and Tushar Mittal, a sophomore at Dutchtown High School, Stockbridge, Georgia.   

The Georgia competition was organized by Georgia Bio, the state’s life science industry association in partnership with the Biotechnology Institute, and sponsored by UCB, Inc. It was held on March 30, 2012 at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair in Athens, Georgia, and included 19 students from all over the state. UCB, of Smyrna, Georgia, is sponsoring the Georgia finalists’ participation in the U.S. National and International BioGENEius Challenges in Boston. 

“It is critical for the growth of the life sciences industry in Georgia that we ensure a pool of talented, skilled graduates who are enthusiastic about biotechnology and the sciences,” said Greg Duncan, UCB’s President of North American Operations, and a Georgia Bio board member and National BIO board member. “At UCB, we are very pleased to be able to support this program that aims to encourage that scientific excellence. We wish our finalists well in the competition and look forward to seeing further development of their projects.” 

Judges were Ralph L. Cordell, PhD, Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michael Ensslin, Ph.D., Senior Engineer, Aderans Research Institute, Inc.; and Melinda Welch, PhD, Medical Science Liaison II, UCB, Inc. 

Mr. Bhowmik’s project was entitled “Arterial Hemodynamics in Atherosclerosis Patients - A Mathematical Model”.  In this research, a mathematical model was developed to simulate the dynamics of blood flow in coronary arteries affected by stenosis. Results of model simulation indicate that the effectiveness of stent implantation can be improved by redesigning the commonly used stent configuration. The researcher developed a novel stent design that has the potential to reduce the number of cases of post-stenting myocardial infarction. 

Ms. Abelsky’s project, “Analysis of Cylindrically Confined Diblock Copolymers and Gold Nanocomposites for Metamaterials”, delved into the world of J.K. Rowling.  Although her fantasy novels may not have touched on plasmonics, today’s emerging technology allows for a periodic array of parallel gold nanorods to be arranged to create a negative refractive index in the optical frequency range. Using Polystyrene-B- Poly (2-vinylpyridine) under cylindrical confinement and varying the length and spacing of the nanorods, the electromagnetic response can be manipulated.  

Mr. Bhowmik and Ms. Abelsky will now advance to the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge and have a chance to compete at the International BioGENEius Challenge competition, which will be held June 17 and 18 respectively in conjuction with the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston, MA.  The BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry attracting between 14,000 and 20,000 attendees each year.  The convention attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities and provides insights and inspiration on the major trends affecting the industry.  Winners of the International BioGENEius Challenge will be announced at the June 19 keynote luncheon. 

The International BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, the national organization dedicated to biotechnology education, and sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group, a leading global pharmaceutical company, and Janssen, pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson.  

At the Local, U.S. National and International competitions, students are evaluated on the quality of their research and display, as well as on their responses to questions relating to their scientific knowledge and potential commercial applications of their research. 

At the BIO International Convention, the panel of judges will include scientists, researchers, educators and key members of the biotechnology industry and academia. Judges will select the top four winners from 14 U.S. National, Western Australia, and Canada finalists.  The first place winner of the BioGENEius Challenge will receive $7,500; second place will receive $5,000; third place will receive $2,500 and fourth place will receive $1,000.  Each remaining participant will receive an honorable mention award and $500. 

The International BioGENEius Challenge, which emerged from the Sanofi Pasteur (then called Connaught) BioGENEius Challenge, was launched at the first BIO International Convention in 1994.  Today, the initiative has grown in both national and international prominence. 

Sanofi Pasteur has supported the BioGENEius Challenge since its inception. In addition to Sanofi Pasteur and Janssen, support for the BioGENEius Challenge is provided by International Sponsors The Astellas Foundation, Genentech and MedImmune, and U.S. National Sponsors Acorda Therapeutics, The Allergan Foundation and Sangamo BioSciences. 

About Georgia Bio Georgia Bio is the private, non-profit association that promotes the life sciences industry and university research in Georgia. Members include pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies, research universities and institute, medical centers, government groups and other business organizations working to improve the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment. 

About UCB, Inc. UCB, Brussels, Belgium ( is a global biopharmaceutical company with its North American headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia. It is focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system and of the central nervous system. With more than 8,500 people in about 40 countries, the company generated revenue of EUR 3.2 billion in 2011. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB). 

About the Biotechnology Institute The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology.  It’s mission is to engage, excite, and educate young people about careers in biotechnology and their potential to heal the sick, feed the hungry, restore the environment, and fuel the economy.  For more information, visit

Charles S. Craig       

Janelle Curtis 202-312-9266 

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