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The iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center Names Oak Park River Forest Senior Illinois BioGENEius Finalist

Tuesday, May 20, 2014  
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Grace Niewijk Advances to San Diego to Compete Against Top Students

From Across the Nation and Canada


Chicago, Il, May 16, 2014 – The iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center today named Oak Park River Forest Senior, Grace Niejijk of Oak Park, Il as the winner of the 2014 Illinois BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology.  As the Illinois BioGENEius finalist, Grace will gain insider access to the biotechnology industry by attending the 2014 BIO International Convention in San Diego, the industry’s trade conference, where leading companies, scientists and innovators will offer her invaluable advice and first-hand experience on the limitless possibilities within one of the world’s most innovative industries.

While in San Diego, Grace will compete against students from the U.S. and Canada in the International BioGENEius Challenge. 

“The Challenge is a leading example of an educational experience that provides students with the biotechnology skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field,” said Illinois President.  “This June, the iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center will be cheering on Grace at the 2014 BIO International Convention as we already know that her current and future research has an opportunity to make a noteworthy contribution to the world.”

Through their generous sponsorship of the Challenge, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of leading global pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, are taking an active role in changing and shaping the future of the biotechnology industry.

“Students are rapidly gaining interest in the sciences, and the BioGENEius Challenge has found a way to encourage those students who are excited about biotechnology to take the next step in their research,” said Mark Lievonen, President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited.  “We are thrilled to participate in a program that cultivates young, innovative minds to address our global challenges in new ways.”

“Biotechnology offers an avenue to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. Through the BioGENEius Challenge students gain an appreciation for the fascinating aspects and tremendous potential of scientific experimentation,” added Jay P. Siegel, M.D., Chief Biotechnology Officer and Head of Scientific Strategy and Policy for Johnson & Johnson.  “It is our expectation that this program will draw bright young people into the endeavor of biotechnology and help accelerate the development of the next-generation of scientists.”

Grace’s project was selected because her research focuses on the creation of Novel Absorbent Antimicrobial Bandages and Ointment from the Slime of the Pacific Hagfish, Eptatretus stoutii, for Use on Burns and Wounds

The first place winner in the International competition will receive a $7,500 cash prize, the second place winner will receive $5,000, the third place winner will receive $2,500 and the fourth place winner will receive $1,000. 

In addition to Sanofi Pasteur and Janssen, support for the BioGENEius Challenge is provided by International Supporter: Genentech; and U.S. National Supporters: Acorda Therapeutics, The Allergan Foundation, Pfizer and Sangamo BioSciences.

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