skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXI, No. 14
July 10, 2009
cover

previous story

next story


NIDA Honors Four Young Scientists
NIH Cancer Project Wins Top Honors at Intel Science Fair

On the front page...

NIH for the first time announced Grand Awards in the Medicine and Health category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held recently in Reno, Nev. The Intel ISEF, the world’s premiere science competition exclusively for students in grades 9-12, provides an annual forum for more than 1,500 outstanding students nationwide to showcase their independent research.

Continued...


  NIA’s Dr. Stuart Maudsley (l) and Dr. Elisabeth Wagener, deputy director of the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program, answer questions at the NIH exhibit at the Intel ISEF.  
  NIA’s Dr. Stuart Maudsley (l) and Dr. Elisabeth Wagener, deputy director of the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program, answer questions at the NIH exhibit at the Intel ISEF.  

“The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is a platform for the best and brightest high school science students in the world,” said NIH acting director Dr. Raynard Kington. “Hundreds of NIH scientists are poised to retire in the next decade. It is a priority for NIH to nurture the careers of brilliant young scholars and build a pipeline of scientists with an interest in one day working with one of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers. Participating in the fair is one example of how NIH is encouraging students in science education.” NIH for the first time announced Grand Awards in the Medicine and Health category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held recently in Reno, Nev. The Intel ISEF, the world’s premiere science competition exclusively for students in grades 9-12, provides an annual forum for more than 1,500 outstanding students nationwide to showcase their independent research.

NIH presented the Medicine and Health category, which recognized a total of 26 students in several levels. Outside funding sources financed the awards, including a Best of Category prize of $5,000 and a notebook computer. In addition, a $1,000 award was given to the winner’s school and the Intel ISEF-affiliated fair they represented. The first place prize was a $3,000 cash award; second place was $1,500; third place was $1,000 and fourth place was $500.

Judges, who came from scientific institutions all over the world, assessed the projects and recommended finalists for the NIH announcements. NIH officials, including Dr. Elisabeth Wagener, deputy director of the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program, and Drs. Joseph Mindell (NINDS), Carla Easter (NHGRI) and Stuart Maudsley (NIA) also evaluated projects.

Ashoka Sanjaya Rajendra, 17, from the Loudoun County Academy of Science in Sterling, Va., won Best of Category and a first place prize for his project, “Down-regulation of hTERT Sensitizes Chemotherapeutic Effects of Docetaxel in Human Prostate Cancer Cells.”

NIDA’s Cindy Miner (l) presents Addiction Science Fair Awards to (from l) 3rd place winner Lucia Mocz, 1st place winners Sehar Anjum Salman and Jada Nicole Dalley, and second place winner Daniel Jeffrey Martin.
NIDA’s Cindy Miner (l) presents Addiction Science Fair Awards to (from l) 3rd place winner Lucia Mocz, 1st place winners Sehar Anjum Salman and Jada Nicole Dalley, and second place winner Daniel Jeffrey Martin.

The other two first place prize winners were Nayana Ghosh-Choudhury, 17, from San Antonio, for the project, “Statins Prevent Breast Cancer Growth and Metastasis, a Third Year Study” and Stephen Walter Trusheim, 18, from Golden Valley, Minn., for the project, “Engineering and Validating Predictive Infection Surveillance Strategies for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

“I was truly impressed by the quality of the science and how well the students presented their work,” Wagener said. “We had a really difficult job trying to determine which of the projects were the best of the best, but these three stood out as clear winners. It is my hope that all the participants continue with their science education and their research too! Hopefully one day we’ll see them at the NIH.”

NIH also had an exhibit at the fair to provide the young scientists and their families, teachers and mentors with information about NIH, including training programs and science careers.

“We are delighted to have NIH participate in Intel ISEF this year,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science & the Public, which coordinates the competition. “By presenting the Medicine and Health category, NIH scientists are sending a strong message to our finalists: that the top research agency in the United States wants them to consider careers in biomedical science.”

Wagener emphasized how important NIH finds the students’ research. “We need you and we want you to succeed. You are the innovative minds that are already driving research and advancing the knowledge in your fields. It is my sincere hope that you stick with it. You are the ones who are going to make the exciting breakthroughs of tomorrow. You are truly shaping the future. We need your fresh ideas and motivation to tackle all the new scientific questions that arise every day,” she said.

First place Medicine and Health Category winners (from l) Nayana Ghosh-Choudhury, Ashoka Sanjaya Rajendra and Stephen Walter Trusheim pose with Wagener.
First place Medicine and Health Category winners (from l) Nayana Ghosh-Choudhury, Ashoka Sanjaya Rajendra and Stephen Walter Trusheim pose with Wagener.
NIH’s participation in the Intel ISEF is supported by multiple ICs including the Office of Science Education, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Office of Research on Women’s Health, the Office of Intramural Training & Education and NIDA.

NIDA and the Friends of NIDA presented the Intel ISEF Addiction Science Awards for the second time. This year, research into the effect of third-hand smoke on the risk for genetic mutations in fruit flies by Sehar Anjum Salman and Jada Nicole Dalley, both 16-year-old juniors in San Antonio, won the top Addiction Science Award.

“What impressed us most about these young scientists was their ability to design and complete an extremely successful scientific project without having access to a college-level laboratory,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “They showed great imagination and creativity in using a variety of resources, including an atlas of Drosophila melanogaster mutants, to maximize the results and potential significance of their efforts. As a result, they have made a timely contribution to an emergent and important area of research.”

Winning second place was Daniel Jeffrey Martin, a 17-year-old junior from Phoenix, for his project, “The Effect of Human Methamphetamine Usage on Carnivore Scavenging.” Martin made a retrospective analysis of data from a local medical examiner’s office to demonstrate that carnivorous animals do not like to scavenge the remains of humans known to have abused methamphetamine.

The third place Addiction Science Award was given to a computer science project, “Complex Evaluation of Danger and Tranquility in Urban Settings: An Immunocomputing Intelligence Approach,” developed by 18-year-old Lucia Mocz, a senior from Mililani, Hawaii. Using an artificial intelligence algorithm, she was able to generate highly detailed maps that integrate correlated indicators of danger and tranquility in the urban region of her home town. NIHRecord Icon

back to top of page