All Saints Student wins first prize at Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge
All Saints High School student, Romina Hassanzadeh, took home first prize and three other awards at the regional Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge last week, netting her more than $3,000!
Romina is turning heads with her cancer-fighting research done at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Come Monday, her work will go up against that of 12 other students from across Canada at finals at the National Research Council’s headquarters in Ottawa. “My Mom’s aunt died of breast cancer and that’s part of the reason I started this project,” said Hassanzadeh, who first entered the competition in Grade 9. Her work examined the effect the drug echinomycin has on breast cancer cells and found that, compared to untreated cancerous cells, treatment led to lower levels of an enzyme that protects cancer cells and allows them to multiply rapidly. “Romina’s results are preliminary but offer new understanding of how this drug might work,” said her mentor Dr. Ian Lorimer, Senior Scientist of Cancer Therapeutics at the OHRI.
“I was surprised, I wasn’t expecting the first place award,” Hassanzadeh said of her win. Yet she shouldn’t be surprised said her mother Roya Pasha, noting that she would regularly drive her daughter to the OHRI lab after she had finished a full day of school. “The competition has given my more confidence in my self and what a high school student is able to do,” Hassanzadeh said, adding that she plans on attending the University of Ottawa biomedicine program in the fall.