Monday, June 27, 2011

Virginia Student to Compete in International BioGENEius Challenge in D.C.

Riley Ennis of Fairfax County, Virginia, was named one of the ten finalists of the 2011 U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge. The Virginia, U.S. National and International BioGENEius Challenges are competitions for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects. The ten U.S. National finalists will join students June 27th from Canada and Australia to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge at the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Ennis, aged 17, is a recent graduate of Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. His winning presentation was titled, “Cancer Immunotherapy Research Vaccine: Mannose Glycoprotein Encapsulated PLGA Fluorescent Nanoparticles Biotinylated for Conjuga.

Following the announcement of his selection by the judges at the awards banquet at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on Sunday night, Mr. Ennis said, “As an international finalist for the BioGENEius Challenge, I am so honored to be part of the competition; surrounded by amazing students all with the same passion as me. I would like to thank the Virginia Biotechnology Association and the Chesapeake Bioscience Education Foundation for their incredible help and support. Hopefully in the next few years, cancer vaccines will be at the forefront of cancer therapeutics; and it is at competitions like the BioGENEius Challenge where ideas become reality.”

Mr. Ennis was one of three outstanding students who won the 2011 Virginia BioGENEius Challenge, co-sponsored by the Chesapeake Bioscience Education Foundation (C-BEF) and the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VABIO). "I know I can speak for the entire bioscience community in Virginia when I commend Riley for his achievement," said Mark A. Herzog, VABIO executive director. “Virginia had an outstanding group competing for the national title and we are very pleased that Riley Ennis will be representing Virginia and the United States at the International Competition.”

“Two years ago, I couldn't have imagined arriving at the point of being selected as a U.S. National Finalist and now a competitor in the International BioGENEius Challenge in Washington DC,” continued Mr. Ennis. “I have developed an innovative cancer vaccine that harnesses the innate abilities of the human body in order to battle cancer, without deleterious side effects or invasive procedures. I was able to take my project to the next level of pharmaceutical relevance with the help of experts in the biotechnology field, who helped me file for a provisional patent, and start RC Molecular Innovations: a biotechnology company focused on the development of this vaccine platform technology.”

“We are so proud of Riley, Prasannappa and Venkatesan,” said Dr. Martin Chapman, chairman of C-BEF and president of Indoor Biotechnologies in Charlottesville, Virginia. “All three of the winners of the Virginia BioGENEius Challenge who competed for the U.S. National title are outstanding students and will be a credit to the industry in the days ahead.”

Also competing in the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge from Virginia were:

  • Prasannappa Rithvik, Age 17, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Fairfax County: “Investigating wingless-mediated signaling in class specific dendrite morphogenesis.”
  • Venkatesan Radha, Age 14, York High School, York County: “Study of over expression of C-MET Receptor Tyrosine Kinase signaling in liver cancer.”

The International BioGENEius Challenge competition will be held June 27, at the 2011 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention in Washington, D.C. The BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry attracting approximately 15,000 attendees each year. The convention attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities and provides insights and inspiration on the major trends affecting the industry. Winners of the competition will be announced at the June 28th keynote luncheon session featuring Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The panel of judges will include scientists, researchers, educators and key members of the biotechnology industry and academia. Judges will select the top four winners from 14 U.S. National, Western Australia, and Canada finalists. The first place winner of the BioGENEius Challenge will receive $7,500; second place will receive $5,000; third place will receive $2,500 and fourth place will receive $1,000. Each remaining participant will receive an honorable mention award and $500.

At the Local, U.S. National and International competitions, students are evaluated on the quality of their research and display, as well as on their responses to questions relating to their scientific knowledge and potential commercial applications of their research.

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