Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada Celebrates 20 Years of Advancing Science - 74% of SBCC Participants Pursued Science Careers Thanks to National Biotechnology Research Competition

Published: Mar 08, 2013

TORONTO, March 7, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Over the past 20 years, over 4,500 high school students across Canada have participated in the "Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)", a national biotechnology research competition that encourages students to pursue careers in science. Inspired by the question "How will you change the world?" these Canadian teens, mentored by leading academics and scientists, have created astounding and life-changing scientific discoveries, many of which have been patented and commercialized.

Now in its 20th year, the "2013 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)" starts in mid-March and culminates in a national awards ceremony in Ottawa on April 9. For many of the students, it provides a path to careers and research in science and biotechnology. According to a survey of past SBCC participants by Bioscience Education Canada1, 84% said their participation in the competition helped determine their field of study or career plan and 74% were pursuing biotechnology-related education or professions. Nearly 60% of respondents were female.

Mark Lievonen, President, Sanofi Pasteur Canada, which helped establish the competition in 1993, explains: "Twenty years ago, we saw the SBCC as a way to give back. Today, we see that these teens have achieved real results, which shows the power of science to accelerate Canadian competitiveness and productivity. The Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) stands as a symbol of collaboration between industry, government and academia and has helped foster a culture of innovation in Canada. With the right talent, funding and intellectual property protection we can cultivate the next generation of leaders to shape Canada's future." To hear more of Mr. Lievonen's perspective, click here.

Some of the celebrated discoveries of the past 20 years include:

  • In 2007, at age 17, Ted Paranjothy of Winnipeg developed a now- patented anti-cancer agent able to kill human cancer cells without harming healthy ones. He is the only Canadian that has won both the 2007 SBCC regional and national competitions, and the Sanofi-sponsored International BioGENEius Challenge. Now 22, Ted is an independent researcher in cell science at the University of Manitoba.
  • Grade 9 student Rui Song of Saskatoon won the #1 national award in 2010 for her work to genetically fingerprint a lentil crop-killing fungus that "astonished" the judges. She placed second in the 2012 competition and today, in Grade 12, is weighing full-time university offers.
  • In 2011, Montreal CEGEP students Simon Leclerc, Jonathan Khouzam and Francis Marcogliese came second in the National competition for their work to make a sorbet for vegetarians, developing a substitute for the animal-based gelatine normally found in the popular frozen dessert. They received a special award for the project with the greatest commercial potential.
  • 2012 national competitors Jeanny Tao, 18, and Miranda Wang, 19 of Vancouver, identified a species of bacteria from the Fraser River's muddy banks that helps decompose plastic. They received a special prize for the "greatest commercial potential, and shared their story at Ted@Vancouver and TED 2013 in Los Angeles.
  • The 2012 national winner, Grade 12 student Janelle Tam of Waterloo, detailed the anti-aging potential of a nano compound found in wood pulp, capturing media attention in at least 36 countries. She starts at Princeton this fall.

"With its 20-year heritage, the SBCC shows how critical partnerships are to advance science and talent in Canada," Jon Fairest, CEO of Sanofi Canada, said. "From the mentoring provided by dedicated academics, to the support of government and the educational sector, the SBCC truly stands out as a model for innovative public-private partnerships. Together, we must all think differently about our future and ensure we have the right foundation in place."

Rick Levick, Executive Director, Bioscience Education Canada, which coordinates the SBCC,commented, "The original competition was known as the BIO-Connaught Student Biotechnology Competition and was a side event to the international BIO conference in Toronto. In 2002, it expanded Canada-wide, and is now replicated in Australia and the US. The "Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)" is different from other science competitions because our students work with mentors and have access to the highest quality lab equipment and supplies. With the support of founding sponsors like Sanofi Pasteur Canada, we are working to accelerate science and build a Canadian talent pool in the in biotechnology sector."

Regional competitions begin in Manitoba on March 21. Over the next few weeks, award ceremonies will take place in Winnipeg, MB (March 21), Vancouver, BC (April 4), Calgary, AB (April 2), Saskatoon, SK (March 27), Southwestern Ontario/Hamilton, ON (March 27), Toronto, ON (March 28), Eastern Ontario/Ottawa, ON (March 28), Montreal, Quebec (March 28) and Atlantic Canada/Moncton, NB (March 27). The winners of each regional competition will present their work at the national competition, held at the headquarters of the National Research Council in Ottawa on April 9, 2013. The first and second place winners of the "Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)" will advance to the International BioGENEius Challenge held in Chicago, IL on April 21, in conjunction with the BIO Annual International Convention. For a full schedule of dates, locations and judges, click here.

About the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)
The Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) is a national, biotechnology research competition that encourages high school and CEGEP students to pursue future studies and careers in the exciting field of biotechnology. Coordinated by Bioscience Education Canada since its beginning in 1993, the initiative is sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Limited, Sanofi Canada, Genome Canada, the National Research Council Canada/ Conseil national de recherches Canada (NRC-CNRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (CIHR-IRSC) and the Government of Canada's Youth Awareness Program.

About Sanofi
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or

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1 Survey involved 375 of an estimated 4,500 past SBCC participants since 1994)

SOURCE Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC)

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