2002 BioGENEius/Aventis Biotech Challenge in Toronto Announces Five Winners

Toronto (June 10, 2002) - Aventis, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, is sponsoring the combined 2002 BioGENEius/Aventis Biotech Challenge to be awarded at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2002 International Convention today at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

In Canada, Aventis Pasteur, the vaccine division of Aventis, has supported the Aventis Biotech Challenge since its inception in 1994. Under the direction of the Canadian Biotechnology Education Resource Center (CBERC), the Aventis Biotech Challenge is an annual program for teens that highlights the importance of careers in biotechnology.

In the United States, Aventis supports the prestigious BioGENEius Awards. Now under the direction of the Biotechnology Institute, the BioGENEius Awards are given annually to students who demonstrate exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science fair projects.

The roots of both programs stem from BIO 1994, also held in Toronto, when local high school students were first invited to display their biotechnology research projects and compete for cash awards. This year's program took place in numerous cities across Canada, resulting in twelve first-place teams who will compete for thousands of dollars in cash awards at the 2002 BioGENEius/ Aventis Biotech Challenge. The winners are listed below.

Awards of Excellence

First Place: $5,000
Colleen Connolly
Sacred Heart School of Halifax
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Project Title: "Code Red! Effect of Statin Cholesterol Synthesis Inhibitors on Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule Expression"
Her research discovered potential negative side-effects of certain types of statin drugs commonly used to treat atherosclerosis.

Second Place: $4,000
Anila Madiraju
Centennial Regional High School
Montreal, Quebec
Project Title: "Our Hero is BAK"
This student developed a technique based on the BAK peptides that can identify anti-cancer compounds.

Third Place: $3,000
Adele Nguyen and Alexander Tomkins
Gloucester High School
Gloucester, Ontario
Project Title: "Nutty Affairs: Domesticating Industrial Techniques for Peanut Detection"
This team investigated ways of adapting industrial techniques for detecting peanuts in food -- a potentially life-saving innovation for parents of children with allergies to peanuts

Fourth Place: $2,000
Crystal Pinto
Francis Libermann Catholic High School
Toronto, Ontario
Project Title: "Effects of Grape Polyphenols on Microglial Activation and Neurotoxicity"
This student's project investigated potential effect of anti-oxidant compounds found in grapes in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's Disease.

Fifth Place: $1,000
Lik Hang Lee and Jacksy Zhao
David Thompson Secondary School
Vancouver, British Columbia
Project Title: "What a Cow of A Plastic"
The students used the casein protein found in milk as a polymer to create a biodegradable plastic.

The other competing teams were Vladic Lavrosky (Calgary: Andrew Finlay, teacher); Suneil Khana and Telford Yeung (Edmonton: Cheryle Kachman, teacher); Hadi Taherian (Saskatoon: Cathi Johnson, teacher); Lisa Boake, Carley Friesen, and Matt Obach (Manitoba: Paul Friesen, teacher); Ruth Ainsworth (London: Janet Lewis, teacher); Jennifer Robblee and Kate Storey (New Brunswick: Lawrence McGillivary, teacher); and, Greg Dale and Aaron Rudkin (Newfoundland and Labrador: Jamie Parsons, teacher).

Note: All of the students will have an opportunity to display their research to convention participants and attend the plenary and breakout sessions occurring during the first day of BIO 2002.

Aventis (NYSE: AVE) is dedicated to improving life by treating and preventing human disease through the discovery and development of innovative pharmaceutical products. Aventis focuses on prescription drugs for important therapeutic areas such as oncology, cardiology, diabetes and respiratory disorders as well as on human vaccines. In 2001, Aventis generated sales of € 17.7 billion, invested approx. € 3 billion in research and development and employed approx. 75,000 people in its core business. Aventis corporate headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. For more information, please contact Nancy Simpson, 416-667-2955 or

CBERC was founded in 2000 as a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to improving the quality of biotechnology education in Canadian schools. The objectives of CBERC are to promote student and teacher awareness of biotechnology as a choice of study and careers; address education, curriculum and skills development issues; and increase general public awareness about the beneficial potential of biotechnology. CBERC co-ordinates the Aventis Biotech Challenge, a national science competition for high school students, and offers workshops and lab courses for teachers. For more information, please contact Rick Levick, 416-443-8021 or

Founded in 1998, the Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national, not-for-profit educational organization based in Arlington, VA. Its mission is to engage, excite, and educate as many people as possible, particularly young people, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health and environmental problems. The Institute sponsors a variety of educational programs including the BioGENEius awards for students who excel in the life sciences, and Your World magazine, an informative resource for teachers and students that emphasizes the important role that biotechnology plays in daily life. For further information, visit our website at

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

* * * * *