~ serious illness gets serious attention ~ Serious illness gets serious attention Serious illness gets serious attention
A passion for tackling serious illnesses — sometimes driven by the experiences of someone close to them — led theserecipients to research potential improvements to existing treatments.
Neil Kalra, 19, Saskatoon, Sask.
Bottom to top: Perri Tutelman, Neil Kalra, Sapna Shah, Sofia Oke and Tony Kwon. Photo: J.P. Moczulski for The Globeand Mail Neil Kalra's involvement in medical research stems from his desire to "study something so that we can use the knowledgein the real world to help people." His interest in lymphomas and cell death in atherosclerosis led him to find and workwith researchers in these fields at the University of Saskatchewan.
Part of the research involves building tissue micro arrays, or combinations of different kinds of tissue that allow for quickanalysis of particular proteins involved in the disease. He's hoping the results of the lymphoma research will help at thetime of diagnosis to identify which patients have a higher chance of having a more aggressive cancer, allowing them toget the appropriate treatment. As for the atherosclerosis research, he's hoping results could help identify who is morelikely to have a stroke or heart attack.
Aside from science fair prizes, his lymphoma research won him second place in the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge inthe Open category in 2008.
Already enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. Kalra, who hopes to be a physician, was accepted to the school'scollege of medicine.
Mr. Kalra also volunteers with children and youth, among others at the Physical Activity for Active Living Camp for thosewith disabilities. He is also involved with reading programs and with a Rotary youth leadership program. He is also asoccer referee at the provincial and national levels. His awards include provincial youth awards and a team first-placeaward in 2007 at the RBC/Shad Entrepreneurship Cup for senior high-school students.
Mr. Kalra, who has co-authored abstracts for the Canadian Association of Pathologists, will continue his research thissummer. ~ Serious illness gets serious attention Tony Kwon, 17, London, Ont.
As a Grade 9 student, Tony Kwon approached the University of Western Ontario to conduct research in the microbiologyand immunology lab on the effects of garlic on Group A Sreptococcus bacteria.
The A.B. Lucas Secondary School student in London, Ont., had become aware of how Group A streptococcal infectionsaffect people in developing countries. It can cause strep throat, among other infections, which in the developed world canbe easily treated but in the Third World, treatments are not always available.
One serious consequence of strep throat, if left untreated, is that it can cause rheumatic heart disease, which conservativeestimates suggest causes 233,000 deaths worldwide, says Mr. Kwon. Estimated deaths from overall streptococcalinfections are 500,000 worldwide, he adds.
He chose to research garlic because it is already often used for medicinal purposes and is part of many cultures' cuisine.
Mr. Kwon's research indicates that fresh garlic inhibits streptococcal bacterial growth and can decrease virulence. Heplaced first in the senior medical sciences category in the 2009 national science fair and was a member of the 2009 TeamCanada at the international science fair in Tunisia.
He intends to continue his research, hoping to find whether garlic induced changes can make the bacteria less severelyinvasive.
Next year, Mr. Kwon will be studying life sciences at the University of Toronto, and hopes to become a researcher in thefield of microbiology and immunology.
Sofia Oke, 17, Guelph, Ont.
A close family friend's chemotherapy treatments after a cancer diagnosis gave Sofia Oke a close look at how harmful theside effects, such as hair loss and vomiting bleeding, can be. This inspired her to begin researching how to reduce them.
The Centennial Collegiate and Vocational Institute student in Guelph, Ont., became interested in chemosensitizers, whichcan make cancerous cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy drugs. She and a partner they approached amentor from the University of Guelph. Two years of research using chemosensitizers indicated the ability to lower theside effects of chemotherapy drugs, in particular indomethacin, a commonly used drug for breast and colon cancer.
Their work earned a gold medal at the Waterloo-Wellington Science Fair in 2009 and 2010 and a Petro CanadaInnovation Award at the Canada-wide science Fair in 2009, as well as a bronze medal in senior health sciences at the2010 Canada-wide Science Fair.
Ms. Oke also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, St. Joseph's Health Care Centre, the Canadian Red Cross, CanadianBlood Services and the Bracelet of Hope Campaign.
She is also a member of the Guelph Youth Council, was named most valuable player of her competitive soccer team, andplaced 10th out of 1,000 at the DECA international business competition in California.
Ms. Oke received a University of Guelph Chancellor's Scholarship for next year, and will be studying toxicology. She lovestravel and science, and hopes to combine both by eventually becoming a physician, opening a clinic and travelling theworld as a medical correspondent.
Sapna Shah, 17, Markham, Ont.
Inspired by a friend's father, who was dealing with kidney failure, Sapna Shah began researching the disease. She e-mailed professors doing research in the field, and found someone at McGill University who had hosted high schoolstudents in the past .
At 16, Ms. Shah began working as a summer research student at McGill, designing an experiment to see if coated liveyeast cells would decrease the toxins associated with kidney failure in rats. ~ Serious illness gets serious attention This shows potential for helping even patients with kidney failure, who might be able to decrease the number of timesthey need to undergo dialysis by taking the yeast cell capsules, she says.
Her co-authored review of the research was published in the Journal of Biologics last year.
This fall, the Markham District High School student has been accepted to Queen's University as a chancellor's scholarshiprecipient, where she will study science in hopes of becoming a physician or medical researcher .
Next summer, she will continue her research at McGill. She found that, while the live yeast cells were successful inbreaking down urea, one of toxins created by kidney failure, one result was an accumulation of ammonia, another toxin.
She is looking at a species of E. coli bacteria to counteract the ammonia.
Ms. Shah also volunteers at the Markham Stouffville Hospital , helping orient children before their surgeries.
She is also on the Mayor's Youth Task Force, helping advise on youth programs.
Perri Tutelman, 16, Richmond, B.C.
Concerned about breast cancer, Perri Tutelman began to research the potential of an herb in decreasing the effects ofchemotherapy. At the same time, the Grade 11 student at SIDES school is dedicated to helping children with lifethreatening illnesses and established the Cures for Kids Foundation.
Ms. Tutelman has been a contributing researcher at the B.C. Cancer research Centre. Her research into the herbartemisinin suggests that its ability to inhibit cell growth may allow patients with breast cancer to undergo lesschemotherapy. Her work was recognized with a gold medal at the Canada-wide science fair in 2009, a Canadian MedicalLaboratory Association award and second place at the Sanofi Aventis Biotalent competition.
Ms. Tutelman has also worked as a pediatric support worker, and witnessing the devastation of serious illness in childreninspired her to found Cures for Kids, a non-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for pediatric life-threatening illnesses.
She leads a team of student volunteers and a board of directors. The organization recently secured long-term corporatesupport through a partnership with Boston Pizza and raised $15,000 for a project for childhood cancers.
Cures for Kids received a national award of innovation from the Art of Living Foundation.
She has also volunteered at Canuck Place Children's Hospice and other recreational programs, working with children whohave special needs.
Ms. Tutelman continues to do research at the University of British Columbia as a volunteer research assistant, lookinginto the role of hormones in auto-immune disorders through the use of transgenic, or genetically modified, models.
She plans to go to the University of British Columbia and hopes to get MD and PhD degrees, allowing her to pursue bothresearch and clinical work, specializing in pediatric medicine.
is the non-profit organization that runs the Top 20 Under 20 awards program. Winners' ages arelisted as what they were on Dec. 31, 2009. A national panel selects the winners.
Other award winners ~ Serious illness gets serious attention GlobeCampus is The Globe and Mail’s site dedicated to undergraduate education in Canada. Through its innovative search, compare and rank tool called campus navigator, Canadian and visiting students can quickly find the school that would fit them best. The Globe and Mail’s annual Canadian University Report (formerly University Report Card) collects the opinion of over 40,000 students across the country. This site will guide parents in evaluating universities and colleges and help students make the right pick from the rich array of qualifiers and indicators available from each of the school’s profile.
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