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On April 7, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre once again played host to over 100 elementary, junior high and high school kids vying for prizes in the annual sanofi-aventis Biotalent Challenge – a high-level event that introduces students to the real world of biotechnology by carrying out research projects of their own design, with expert advice and access to equipment and supplies provided by a mentor in Winnipeg’s science community.

This year, 97 proposals were received from 15 different schools. 80 projects proceeded to the laboratory research stage and 68 made it to the Manitoba competition. More than 70 local scientists, including 4 from St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre mentored these young researchers.

An awards dinner provided by the sponsors for all participants was held Thursday evening at the CanAd Inns Pembina Hwy. location, featuring keynote speaker Mr. Lyle Merrell, President and CEO of Cronus BioPharma Inc., speaking on the business of science. Award winners were then announced:

Junior (grades 5 & 6)


1st place: Autumn Napoakesik and Colin Schroeder, Angus McKay School “Pathogens in Fish”

2nd place: Tim Loewen and Jennifer Kent, Angus McKay School “Creating a Manitoba Bio Product – Saskatoon Berries, the New Antioxidant Pill”

3rd place: Liam Gerus and Owen Ready, Angus McKay School “No Butts About It – Cigarettes Are the New Bacteria Stick”

4th place: Braeden McMullin and Christopher Hastie, Angus McKay School “Is the taste of soda pop affected by the shape of the glass used?”

5th place: Zachary Fincaryl and Dylan Novicki, Angus McKay School “Are You Sipping More Than Just Your Soda? The Truth Bacteria on Soda Can Tops”

Junior (grades 7 & 8)


1st place: Manjot Singh Sainbhi, Arthur A. Leach Junior High School “What are the Effects of C. Thermocellum Bacterial Growth on Alpha Cellulose and Cellobiose?”

2nd place: Matthew Levesque, Grant Park High School “Integrin Expression by Oligodendrocytes”

3rd place: Yu Jin Lee, Arthur A. Leach Junior High School “Does Cooking Food Affect the Content of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats? “

4th place: Alexander Motnenko, Laidlaw School “Teeth Bones and Water”

5th place: Atoosa Jalayeri, Arthur A. Leach Junior High School “Which Oil is More Efficiently Used by the Liver?”

Intermediate (grade 9 & 10)


1st place: Ella Thomson, Balmoral Hall “Direct Fermentation of Waste Cellulosics for Biofuels Production Using Clostridium Thermocellum ”

2nd place: Allen Liu, Acadia Junior High “The Effects of the Canola Genes, SHOOTMERISTEMLESS (STM) and CLAVATA 1 (CLV) on Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) explants during shoot organogenesis via Phytohormone usage of Auxin (2, 4-D) and Cytokinin”

3rd place: Sandy Lee, St. Mary’s Academy “The Claudin 1 Type Junction Protein Exhibits Different Expression in Different Breast Cancer Subtypes”

4th place: Rajas Tipnis & Tony Zhou, Ft. Richmond Collegiate “Expression of Bnip3 After Doxorubicin Treatment”

5th place: Andrew Lee & Hongru Ren, Acadia Junior High “FAME Production in Canola and Soybean Press Meals using In Situ Transesterification”

Senior (grade 11 & 12)


1st place: Binudith Warnakulasooriya, Fort Richmond Collegiate “Genetic Variations in Fatty Acid Denaturase Genes and their Association with the Composition of Essential Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids in Flax”

** Bin will be competing in Ottawa April 26 and 27 at the SABC National Competition where he placed 3’rd last year.

2nd place: Ryan Murphy, Fort Richmond Collegiate “Cardioprotective Effects of Manitoba Grown Purple Garlic”

3rd place: Xichi Yang, Kelvin High School “SRAP Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells”

4th place: Alyssa Verrelli, St Mary’s Academy “Expression of NOX-2 and NOX-4”

5th place: Uliana Kovaltchouk, Sisler High School “Molecular Insights on DNA Uptake and Transit Pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae”

SABC Manitoba is one of 14 regional programs being held across Canada by local biotech and educational organizations in partnership with universities, colleges, government and industry. The program’s national sponsors include sanofi pasteur, sanofi-aventis, BioTalent Canada, Genome Canada, National Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Louis Pasteur Foundation, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. Regional Supporters include Manitoba Science, Technology, Energy and Mines, Red River College, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Genome Prairie, MindSet, Manitoba Network for Science and Technology, and the Winnipeg Youth Biomedical Program.

The Aventis Biotech Challenge 2009/2010 for the Manitoba region is coordinated by MindSet, Manitoba Network for Science & Technology.

The SABC also received local media coverage. View the following news clip (courtesy City TV Winnipeg).

For more information contact:

Bill Peters
Manager, Communications & Media Services
St. Boniface Hospital Research
[T] (204) 258-1325 [F] (204) 235-0793

Bob Brown
SABC Regional Coordinator
[T] 235-1812 (office) 791-5356 (cell)