SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Utkarsh Tandon (10th Grade, California) and Jilly Cronin (12th Grade, Illinois) were named the winners of the International BioGENEius Challenge in Healthcare and Environment, respectively. Judged by industry and academic experts, Utkarsh and Jilly stood out from the 13 other finalists from the U.S., Canada, and Germany to win top honors and cash prizes of $7,500 each at the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco.
“A great idea can come from anywhere, and the future of scientific advancement depends on our ability to effectively engage young minds in science and biotechnology," said Seema Kumar, VP of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communications at Johnson & Johnson. “As an exclusive sponsor of the BioGENEius Global Healthcare Track and Gene Pool competitions, we congratulate all of the outstanding young scientists who competed this year. Each of them has the potential to change the world for the better."
The winners were named today during the keynote at the 2016 BIO International Convention, which featured Dr. Bennet Omalu and actor Will Smith, who portrayed him in the movie "Concussion." The International BioGENEius Challenge provides students the unique opportunity of attending the BIO International Convention, a leading biotechnology industry conference, allowing them to gain valuable insights from biotech leaders, leading companies, scientists, and innovators currently transforming the scientific landscape.
Utkarsh’s (Cupertino High School) project in the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Global Healthcare Challenge (medical biotech), titled, “ARIA: Diabetic Retinopathy Prognosis via Hypertensive Modeling; ML-based Morphological Computer Vision for Rapid Ophthalmology,” seeks to discover new symptoms to diagnose and monitor diabetic retinopathy (DR). The research also develops a low-cost, portable device for rapid DR-stage classification through Random Forest ensembles and morphological computer-vision algorithms, which could be helpful in rural areas that lack access to trained ophthalmologists and expensive diagnostic equipment.
Jilly’s (Oak Park and River Forest High School) project in the Environmental Challenge titled, “Effects of Salinity and Temperature on Adsorption of Zinc by E. gracilis” seeks to devise a new way to absorb heavy metal zinc pollution from water.
“We could not be more proud or inspired by this year’s BioGENEius Challenge winners – their research strives to create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems,” said Dr. Lawrence Mahan, President of Biotechnology Institute. “We applaud them for their forward-looking projects and commitment to biotechnology research, especially since we know this is only the beginning of their scientific journey.”
The student competitors were evaluated on the quality of their research in biomedical, agricultural, and industrial/environmental biotechnology. Students were assessed on their presentations and ability to handle questions regarding their research and general scientific knowledge. Moreover, each student’s research was judged on the potential commercial and practical applications of their project.
The International BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute. Generous support from sponsors include the Global Healthcare Challenge sponsor Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the International BioGENEius sponsor the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
About the Biotechnology Institute
The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to research innovation and 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 www.biotechinstitute.org.
About Johnson & Johnson Innovation
Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC focuses on accelerating early-stage innovation worldwide and forming collaborations between entrepreneurs and Johnson & Johnson’s global healthcare businesses. Johnson & Johnson Innovation provides scientists, entrepreneurs and emerging companies one-stop access to science and technology experts who can facilitate collaborations across the pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics and consumer companies of Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson Innovation includes local deal-making capabilities with the flexibility to adapt deal structures to match early-stage opportunities and establish novel collaborations that speed development of innovations to solve unmet needs in patients. For more information please visit: www.jnjinnovation.com