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REF NO.: 160

SUBJECT: Biotechnology whiz kids square off in Newfoundland and Labrador competition
DATE: April 21, 2008

           
            Sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis, BioTalent Canada and many partners, the Sanofi-Aventis Biotalent Challenge (SABC) is an event that introduces students to the real world of biotechnology by carrying out research projects of their own design. In Newfoundland and Labrador the SABC is hosted by Genesis Group, the commercialization arm of Memorial University.
 
Competing for regional honours are student studies into these questions:
           Can fish oil and seal oil reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s?
           Can cod provide an energy efficient way to make cheese?
           Is ultrasound an alternative to surgery for blocked arteries?
           Could juniper cure what ails us?
           Can bacteria help us dispose of used motor oil?
           Could single celled plants be the answer to a never-ending fuel supply?
 
            The competition drives students to broaden their horizons and challenge
their intellect. Many of the students who compete in the SABC go on to pursue careers in biotechnology, healthcare, agriculture and the environment.
            The competition mirrors the real world of scientific research by requiring students to submit research proposals for evaluation by a scientific evaluation committee; providing up to $200 in advance funding to approved student projects; assigning mentors to each team to provide expert advice and access to equipment and supplies; and having each student project judged by fellow students (peer review) and by judges representing government, business, academia and the education community.
            A distinguishing characteristic of the competition is the emphasis judges place on the competitors’ communication of science ideas.
            The first place winners of all 14 SABC regional competitions nationwide (Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Montreal, Eastern Ontario, Toronto, Western Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Calgary, British Columbia, and Canada North), square off at an exclusive competition to be judged by federal government and private sector experts at the National Research Council, Ottawa, Tuesday, May 6. 
            For the first time, the national competition will be done face-to-face, with regional finalists flown to Ottawa for the event. In the past, the presentations were done via videoconference. Winners of the national competition will be announced Wednesday, May 7.
            Students will be at their project displays at the NRC- Institute for Ocean Technology, Memorial University Campus from 2- 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 24.
            Announcement of Newfoundland and Labrador’s prize-winning student biotechnology projects will take place at 7:30 p.m. at NRC’s Institute for Ocean Technology, Memorial University Campus on Thursday, April 24.                                                                                     
About Sanofi Pasteur Limited and sanofi-aventis
Sanofi Pasteur Limited is the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis Group, the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Sanofi Pasteur Limited has a long history of supporting science education at the post-secondary level. In 1994, it recognized the need to engage younger students in biotechnology education, and the initial SABC program was run in conjunction with the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s first meeting in Canada. Since then, the program has expanded to 14 events across Canada and has involved thousands of students. As lead sponsor of the SABC, Sanofi Pasteur is proud to collaborate with partners in government, industry and academia to get high school students engaged in biotechnology. Sanofi Pasteur Limited is Canada’s only full-scale vaccine company, researching, developing and manufacturing in Canada a broad range of human vaccines. With over 1,000 highly-skilled employees, it is one of Canada’s oldest and largest biotech companies. For more information: www.sanofi-pasteur.ca.
About BioTalent Canada
 
BioTalent Canada helps Canada’s bio-economy industry thrive globally. As a non-profit national organization of innovators leading our bio-economy, BioTalent Canada anticipates needs and creates new opportunities, delivering human resources tools, information and skills development to ensure the industry has access to job-ready people. BioTalent Canada is a Canadian sector council—one of many partnership organizations created to address skills-development issues in key sectors of the economy. For more information: www.biotalent.ca or Colette Rivet, Executive Director, BioTalent Canada, 613-235-1402 x 226 or  coletter@biotalent.ca.

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