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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NIDA Hosts Winners of Addiction Science Awards

A group photo of the winners of NIDA’s 2019 Addiction Science Awards

Seated (from l) are science fair winners Nikita Rohila, Sid Thakker and Aditya Tummala. Standing are (from l) NIDA deputy director Dr. Wilson Compton; family members Suman Rohila, Sanya Thakker and Sheetal Thakker; Friends of NIDA’s Dr. Charles O’Keeffe; family member Hemachand Tummala; retired NIDA communications chief Carol Krause; and NIDA chief of staff Dr. Jack Stein.

The winners of NIDA’s 2019 Addiction Science Awards, part of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), presented their projects to NIDA deputy director Dr. Wilson Compton and other NIDA scientists on Aug. 12. 

Following the presentation, the awardees toured the NIH campus and NIDA intramural program. The Addiction Science Awards are coordinated by NIDA as well as Friends of NIDA, a private group dedicated to furthering NIDA’s mission. ISEF is the world’s largest science competition for high school students.

First place went to Aditya Tummala from Brookings High School in Brookings, S. Dak., for his project “Tampr-X: A Novel Technology to Combat Prescription Opioid Abuse.” The young scientist recognized the need for an improved tamper-proof opioid pill to reduce potential for misuse and developed a gummy-like substance that could not be crushed or melted for snorting or injecting. Called Tampr-X, the product has a provisional patent.

Second place went to Sid Thakker from James Madison High School in Vienna, Va., for “The Role of ALPHA5 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism on Nicotine Dependence.” Using an in vitro model, the 15-year-old manipulated and edited the gene expression of the ALPHA5 nicotinic receptor, which has been linked to nicotine addiction. His hope is that one day we can discover how to conduct this genetic editing in animals, leading to new therapies in humans.   

Winning third place was Nikita Rohila of Stuttgart High School in Stuttgart, Ark., for her project “Trends and Factors for Risky Behavior Among Adolescents.” The 15-year-old sophomore developed a survey to identify trends and factors in the risk-taking behaviors and decision-making skills of nearly 100 teens, 14-18 years old.

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