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SoCalBio Announces Regional BioGENEius Student Challenge Winner for Bioscience Innovation

9th Grader from Orange
County Selected for Her Novel Approach to Treating a Dilapidating
Neurodegenerative Disease

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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 9th-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 10th 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 11th 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 11th 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) 9th 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 4th 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.

Contacts

ExcelPR Group
Erik Deutsch, 323-851-2300 x112
erikd[at]excelpr[dot]com

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