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MdBio Foundation Names Montgomery Blair High School Senior as Maryland BioGENEius Finalist

MdBio Foundation named Montgomery Blair High School Senior Neil Davey, of Gaithersburg, Md., as the winner of the 2014 Maryland BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology. As this year’s winner, Davey will be granted insider access to the 2014 BIO International Convention, the industry’s trade conference, where leading companies, scientists and innovators will provide him a first-hand experience about dynamic careers in the biotechnology industry.

“The Maryland BioGENEius award recognizes the best and brightest students in our community, and this year we had several students who impressed us with their phenomenal projects,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of the MdBio Foundation, Inc. “We are proud to have Neil represent Maryland in the national competition and deeply encouraged by the high level of scientific exploration our state’s students are undertaking.”

Davey was selected as the Maryland winner based on his project that featured breakthrough technology, which enables the early detection of cancers through a combination of drop-based microfluidics and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). His research focused on the detection of circulating tumor cell genes, which is believed to be the “holy grail” of early cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Runners up in the Maryland contest included Kushi Ranganath, a junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School whose project was entitled “Effects of pancreatic α cell-specific deficiency of the G protein α-subunit (Gsα) on islet cell morphology;” and Vishnu Rachakonda, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, whose project was on “Fast electron paramagnetic resonance imaging to study fluctuating tumor physiology: Use of conjugate symmetry of k-Space and trajectory design for image data acquisition.”

While at BIO in San Diego, June 23-26, Davey’s project will compete against those of other students from across the country in the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge. If named a finalist, Davey will go on to compete against a select number of students from the U.S., Canada and Australia in the International BioGENEius Challenge. Each stage of the competition will take place during BIO next month. The first place winner in the International competition will receive a $7,500 cash prize, the second place winner will receive $5,000, the third place winner will receive $2,500 and the fourth place winner will receive $1,000.

The BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, the national organization dedicated to biotechnology education. Generous co-lead supporters of the Challenge include Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of leading global pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Other sponsors of the BioGENEius Challenge include International Supporters: The Astellas Foundation, Genentech and MedImmune; and U.S. National Supporters: Acorda Therapeutics, The Allergan Foundation, BioMarin and Sangamo BioSciences.

“At a time when the U.S. is struggling to engage students in the sciences, the BioGENEius Challenge has found a way to encourage those students who are excited about biotechnology to reach for the next level,” said Jeffrey Almond, Ph.D., vice president for Discovery Research at Sanofi Pasteur. “We are thrilled to participate in a program that cultivates young, innovative minds to address our global challenges in new ways.”

“Through the BioGENEius Challenge, students gain an appreciation for the fascinating aspects of scientific experimentation and the tremendous potential for biotechnology to continue to address some of the most pressing issues of our time,” added Jay P. Siegel, M.D., chief biotechnology officer and head of Global Regulatory Affairs at Janssen Research & Development, LLC. “It is our expectation that this program will draw bright young people into the endeavor of biotechnology and help accelerate the development of the next-generation of scientific leaders.”

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.

About Sanofi Pasteur

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us

About Janssen

At Janssen Research & Development, LLC, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people throughout the world. For more information, please visit: www.janssenrnd.com

About MdBio Foundation

MdBio Foundation is a charitable non-profit organization that provides innovative, effective, and experiential STEM education opportunities with a focus on bioscience. The Foundation’s interdisciplinary approach uses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to explore real-world, problem-centric curriculum that bridges school, community, health, and business. MdBio Foundation’s flagship education program MdBioLab, a mobile laboratory for high schools, has provided quality educational experiences to more than 100,000 students throughout the state of Maryland since its launch in 2003. The Foundation also operates other celebrated STEM education programs such as the Young Science Explorers Program for middle school students, The Maryland BioGENEius Award and its leading-edge educational game platform MdBioSphere. For more information, visit www.mdbiofoundation.org.

About Tech Council Of Maryland

The Tech Council of Maryland (TCM) is the largest technology trade group serving the advanced technology and biotechnology communities of Maryland. With more than 400 members employing over 200,000 in the region, TCM’s mission is to empower them, advocate for their interests, further the role these communities play in Maryland’s economy and nurture an environment where these companies can collaborate, grow and succeed. For more information, visit www.techcouncilmd.com.

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