My name is Amit Scheer. I am a high school student in Ottawa whose greatest passion is science. In 2013, I was honored to be one of the 90 worldwide finalists of the Google Science Fair! In grade 10, I created a novel cancer therapy, winning multiple regional, national and international awards. I was a member of Team Canada at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014, and won a 4th Place Grand Award for Medicine and Health Sciences! Additionally, I won 1st Place at the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Eastern Ontario, becoming one of 9 National Finalists. In university, I plan to study to become a medical researcher.
I developed a novel nanoparticle for targeted cancer therapeutics and imaging. The nanoparticle, which produces a cytotoxic molecule upon its entry into cells, is targeted to the cancer using a strand of DNA (called an aptamer) that recognizes cell-specific features. This novel nanoparticle has applications in many forms of cancer therapeutics and precision (personalized) medicine.
What motivated you to participate in the Sanofi Biogenius Challenge? Did anyone encourage you?
I was motivated to participate in the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge because of a genuine passion for, and interest in, scientific medical research. I heard about the SBCC from a student that had previously participated, who I met at another science competition in 2013—so I thought it would be a great idea to enter! Since this is what I plan to pursue in university and as a career (as a clinician-scientist or medical researcher), it is incredible that I had the opportunity to much of the same activities, as a high school student!
Where did your project idea come from?
I actually thought up the idea for my project at a somewhat surprising time: in the middle of an interview with one of my judges at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, nearly exactly a year before the BioGENEius Challenge national competition. I’m really interested in reading about current research that is being done in various scientific fields, including medicine and engineering, and I found that nanomaterials are a technology with many exciting interdisciplinary applications. When I was at the science fair, the ideas suddenly came together; and after refining my idea over the next few months, I had a proposal for my project that soon became the cancer therapy which I presented at SBCC.
What about your work might be of interest to teens or impact their everyday life?
The application of nanotechnology to a cancer therapy in my project may be of interest to teens, because it is a very interdisciplinary field (with implications in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering), so it appeals to multiple different interests within science. Many people (including me before I started participating in science fairs) don’t realize all that is possible in today’s world in terms of labs and research, so I think that this is something that teens will be interested in after seeing projects such as mine and other youth at the BioGENEius Challenge!
What was your favourite part of the experience? Was there anything you found especially challenging?
My favourite part of the SBCC and science fair experience was meeting so many other people sharing my interests and passions. From getting to know my teammates on Team Canada at the International Science and Engineering Fair, to talking to the other finalists at the national BioGENEius Challenge Canada competition, it was a socially and scientifically enriching opportunity. It was also inspiring to see the projects that all of the competitors presented.
What would be your advice for other youth considering participation in the Sanofi Biogenius Challenge?
My advice for other youth who are considering participation in the BioGENEius Challenge is to start early and to dedicate time and effort to your project. Although making a very good project takes a lot of work, it is important to remember that the SBCC is a very rewarding experience—during both the experimentation and competition phases. Especially if you are passionate about science and plan to pursue a career such as medical research, it is such an incredible opportunity and, if you enjoy it as much as I did, well worth it!