Student wins Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge in Canada with new HIV diagnosis method

Nicole Ticea, 15, from York House School in Burnaby, British Columbia, recently received the top prize in the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) for her creation of a method to detect HIV in newborns under 18 months and for adults before three months post-transmission.

The student was awarded $5,000 by a panel of eminent Canadian scientists at the headquarters of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and will go on to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge this summer.

The project was mentored by Dr. Mark Brockman, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University. It is the first test capable of analyzing HIV viral nucleic acids in a point-of-care, low-resource setting.

The competition brought together ten scientists aged 15-18 years, from nine Canadian regions, to take part in the national finals. More than 200 proposals were submitted from high school and CEGEP students around the country.

The projects covered such areas as telomeres, diabetes, stress management, Alzheimer's, autism and pulp production. Participants must conduct research with the assistance of a university mentor.

The SBCC was created in 1994. Since its inception, more than 4,700 young Canadians have participated in the competition.