Rohan Batra, a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida and Olivia Smith, a senior at Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Florida, have been named two of 37 finalists in the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge. Ten U.S. National finalists will be selected to join students from Canada and Australia to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge which will be held June 19, 2012 at the 2012 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention in Boston. Now entering its 14th year, the BioGENEius Challenge is a competition for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects.

Batra and Smith competed in the local challenge that was held in May in South Florida, and included students from throughout the state.

Batra’s project, titled, “Potential Use of Black Olive (Bucida buceras) Extracts with Antibiotics to Combat Bacterial Infection,” seeks to investigate an alternate way to combat the problem of antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginos, a usually harmless organism that can only cause disease when the host’s resistance is low. Buceda buceras is a native south Florida plant.

Smith’s project, titled, “Silence is Golden: Assessing the Role of SLC35F2 in Osteosarcoma Through the Programmed Delivery and Release of siRNA-AuNP Conjugates,” seeks to understand how to specifically target mutated cells while avoiding debilitating side effects on somatic cells.

Batra and Smith will now advance to the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge and have a chance to compete in the International competition at the BIO International Convention, the largest global event for the biotechnology industry with approximately 16,000 attendees each year. The convention attracts the biggest names and companies in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities and provides insights on the major trends affecting the industry. Winners of the competition will be announced at the convention’s June 19 keynote luncheon.


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