Elite High School Scientists Headed To BIO2016 to Face Off in the BioGENEius Challenge

Students Will Compete in Three BioGENEius Challenge Tracks: The Johnson & Johnson Innovation Global Healthcare Track, Agricultural Sustainability and the Environment

WASHINGTON--()--Today, the Biotechnology Institute announced the 16 student finalists competing at the International BioGENEius Challenge next week at the 2016 Biotechnology International Convention (BIO2016) in San Francisco.

The BioGENEius Challenge is the premier competition for high school students from across the globe that recognizes outstanding research and innovation in biotechnology. Students will be recognized for their efforts in three different Challenge tracks – global healthcare, sustainability and the environment. Finalists from each track will join industry professionals at the BIO International Convention.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation is the sponsor for the global healthcare challenge as part of its longstanding mission to support STEM education.

“We believe that a great idea can come from anywhere. The future of our industry depends on our ability to effectively engage young minds in science and biotechnology. Based on the quality of applicants to this year’s BioGENEius Challenge, we will be in good hands," 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 are excited to help accelerate the development of new scientific breakthroughs by giving students an exciting and engaging environment to showcase their talents.”

On June 6th, all finalists will participate in rigorous judging during the International BioGENEius Challenge. During the competition, students will present highly advanced and innovative research projects that address a variety of real world challenges – including unmet medical needs in cardiometabolic disorders, Parkinson’s, diabetes, inflammation, cancer, and HIV, as well as environmental issues surrounding nitrates, organics, and enhanced production of high value food sources.

Student finalists include:

  • Jilly Cronin, Oak Park River Forest High School, Oak Park, Illinois
  • Iveta Demirova, New Westminster Secondary School, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
  • Laura Fleming, Fairview High School, Boulder, Colorado
  • Roy Ghosh, Parkland High School, Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Priyanka Jain, La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Helen Liu, Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, Connecticut (At-Large Finalist)
  • Varun Mandi, Troy High School, Fullerton, California
  • Simran Modi, The Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology, Lawrenceville, Georgia
  • Carver Nichols, Brevard High School, Brevard, North Carolina
  • Anantha Sriya Reddy, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland
  • Axel Schlindwein, Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium Landau, Landau in der Pfalz, Germany
  • Erin Smith, Shawnee Mission West High School, Overland Park, Kansas
  • Marissa Sumathipala, Broad Run High School, Ashburn, Virginia
  • Connor Sweeney, Charter School of Wilmington, Wilmington, Delaware
  • Utkarsh Tandon, Cupertino High School, Cupertino, California
  • Aaron Wills, Central Lee High School, Donnellson, Iowa

“The extraordinary research we see during the BioGENEius Challenge underscores the importance of investing and encouraging our younger generations to pursue their ideas,” said Dr. Lawrence Mahan, President of the Biotechnology Institute. “The sophistication of research skill that this year’s finalists display given their level of education and stage of career is phenomenal. It is our mission at the Institute to not just showcase their talents, but to foster the efforts of future BioGENEius candidates to challenge their innovative ability.”

The top three winners in the three International BioGENEius Challenge tracks will be announced at the Tuesday morning Keynote at the 2016 BIO International Convention, featuring Dr. Bennet Omalu and actor Will Smith, who portrayed him in the movie "Concussion." Each winner will receive a $7,500 cash prize.

The BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, a U.S. based organization dedicated to biotechnology education. Generous support from major sponsors include Global Healthcare Challenge and Premier sponsor Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) as well as this year’s National sponsors Genentech, Pfizer, PhRMA, and Sangamo BioSciences.

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.


for the Biotechnology Institute
Alexia Sikora, 202-295-8788


for the Biotechnology Institute
Alexia Sikora, 202-295-8788