From using blueberries and willow for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease to using locally-grown corn stalks to make paper, Newfoundland and Labrador students are on the cutting edge of biotechnology in the eighth annual Sanofi-Aventis Biotech Challenge. This competition, for junior and high school students, hosted by Genesis Group, the technology transfer arm of Memorial University, will take place April 26-27 in the National Research Council – Institute for Ocean Technology Building on the St. John’s campus.
Held each year at 13 sites across Canada, the competition is part of a national campaign to promote science education and job opportunities in the growing field of biotechnology. Students are given the opportunity to work with a mentor in their field of interest and to compete for a total of $5,750 in prizes.
A student from Prince of Wales Collegiate in St. John’s is working with a MUN researcher to see if some common herbal remedies and berries can reduce the ill effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Jenny Wen has been studying how blueberries, spinach, willow and ginger can help protect the brains of people suffering from the degenerative illness.
Jacob Parsons of St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl has had some help from Lester’s Farm to do his project. The farm supplied Jacob with corn stalks to see if he could produce a usable paper. With a number of modifications to his recipe for corn stalk paper, he has developed a prototype that can be produced from a fast-growing, renewable plant source that would normally be discarded.
A student from Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s, Meghan Greene, is working with a MUN microbiologist for her project. She is looking at material found in cow’s milk that could be used together with antibiotics to boost their effectiveness.
A substance to reduce the effects of stroke, an experiment to see if young children risk anemia if they drink too much juice and the use of herbal remedies for common eye infections are some of the other topics students will be exploring in the 2006 Sanofi-Aventis Biotech Challenge.
The Sanofi-Aventis Biotech Challenge will be open to the public from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, in the NRC – Institute for Ocean Technology.