ROCKVILLE, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MdBio Foundation today announced that Rebecca Brody, a Baltimore resident and junior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute was named the winner of the 2017 Maryland BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding original research in biotechnology. As the Maryland BioGENEius finalist, Brody will represent the state at the International BioGENEius Challenge during the 2017 BIO International Convention in San Diego, June 18-21. At this industry trade conference, Brody also will have the opportunity to engage with leading companies, scientists and innovators currently transforming the scientific landscape.
“High school students across Maryland have been engaged in amazing research for the BioGENEius Challenge, making the selection process difficult for our judges,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of the MdBio Foundation. “Our mission is to engage and excite students about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by providing innovative programs and competitions like the Maryland BioGENEius competition. We are proud to have Rebecca represent Maryland at the international competition next month.”
Brody’s winning project was entitled, “An in vitro model system for studying the effects of hypoxia on stem cell-derived endothelial cells.” Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (iPSC-derived ECs) represent a promising avenue to repair and replace blood vessels damaged by injury or disease. This cell type could be used to create patient-specific vascular grafts in the lab, which could then be used for clinical treatments of cardiovascular disease. However, Brody noted, little is known about how iPSC-derived ECs function in comparison to physiologic ECs, including the response of iPSC-derived ECs to hypoxic conditions, which are known to stimulate changes to the vasculature in vivo. Brody found that iPSC-derived ECs do behave differently than physiologic ECs, depending on the oxygen concentration of their environment. In low oxygen environments, the iPSC-derived ECs consumed less oxygen than the physiologic stem cells. In addition, the networks formed by iPSC-derived ECs in low oxygen environments were longer and thicker. These results suggest a fundamental difference between iPSC-derived ECs and physiologic ECs, but shows that iPSC-derived ECs can still form effective vascular networks in low oxygen conditions.
Runners up in this year’s state competition included Centennial High School senior Priyadharshini Gajendiran and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute junior Claire Wayner. Gajendiran, who earned second place, examined “Differences in Mitochondrial Activity between Active and Inactive Hepatic Stellate Cells.” Wayner, the third place runner up, presented a project on “Engineering E. coli Removal from Stormwater.”
As the Maryland winner, Brody will be presented with a certificate and cash prize during the Baltimore launch of MdBio’s Mobile eXploration Lab (MXLab) on June 1 at Baltimore City College. Winners of the International BioGENEius competition will be announced during the keynote on June 20 at the 2017 BIO International Convention. The winners of the International competition will receive a $7,500 cash prize.
About MdBio Foundation
MdBio Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides innovative, effective and experiential science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development opportunities to underserved communities. MdBio’s interdisciplinary approach uses STEM to explore a real-world, problem-centric curriculum that bridges school, community, health and business. The foundation’s flagship program is a mobile laboratory for high schools that has provided quality educational experiences to more than 150,000 students throughout the state of Maryland since its launch in 2003. MdBio also operates other celebrated STEM education programs, such as the Young Science Explorers Program for middle school students, the Maryland BioGENEius Award, and ATLAS: Advancing Tomorrow’s Leaders in STEM college and career symposium. Visit www.mdbiofoundation.org or follow on social media @MdBioFoundation.
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. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.
Follow the BioGENEius Challenge: Throughout the challenge, @BiotechInstitut will be tweeting interviews, photos and engaging with the biotechnology community by using #BioGENEius.