LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2021 The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio) — the trade association for the bioscience and digital health industries in Greater Los Angeles — today announced its selection of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School graduating senior, Jason Apostol, as winner of the 2021 Southern California BioGENEius Challenge.
Held in partnership with the Biotechnology Institute, the Challenge enables high school students to compete and be recognized for outstanding research and innovation in the biotechnology field.
As the winner of this year’s Challenge, Mr. Apostol earns a $1,250 scholarship from SoCalBio. He will go on to represent Southern California at the International BioGENEius Challenge held June 14-18 in conjunction with the 2021 BIO International Convention, where he will compete against students from across the U.S., Canada, and Germany.
Mr. Apostol’s winning project is entitled “Refined Genome-Wide Prediction of Transgenerational Epimutations and an Ensemble-Based Solution to the Imbalanced Class Problem in Epigenetics.” It uses a computational approach to predict generationally inherited genetic changes that result from exposure to environmental toxins, and the association between such changes and certain diseases. The ability to identify inherited genome wide changes may help to develop treatment protocols for preventing the onset of related diseases.
“I was heavily influenced by the work of The Skinner Lab at Washington State University,” said Mr. Apostol, who was mentored by science teacher Melissa Klose at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. “I became interested in the field of trans-generational programming of DNA after reading their study uncovering inheritable changes in the genome following exposure to the pesticide DDT. Dr. Skinner’s Lab generously provided the data for my study.”
Mr. Apostol’s project was selected during the 2021 California Science Fair by a panel of SoCalBio judges including A. Stephen Dahms, PhD (SoCalBio Workforce and Talent Development Evangelist); Jennifer Neff, PhD (CEO, AllVivo Vascular); and Chander Arora, PhD (Biotechnology Faculty, Los Angeles Mission College).
“We selected Mr. Apostol’s winning project after reviewing a large number of biology and bio-chemistry projects presented by Southern California high school students,” said Dr. Dahms, who chaired the SoCalBio panel of judges. “We were impressed by the quality of his work and its potential to identify biomarkers that can help prevent diseases associated with generationally inherited DNA changes. Mr. Apostol is pursuing one of the most promising frontiers of biotechnology research.”
SoCalBio President and CEO Ahmed Enany added, “The annual Southern California BioGENEius Challenge shines a spotlight our region’s most remarkable high school student researchers. We organize this event to provide these talented young minds an opportunity to showcase original research and advance their development as the next-generation of scientists and entrepreneurs. We are very proud to have Mr. Apostol represent Southern California at the International BioGENEius Challenge and we wish him the best of luck.”
SoCalBio is a nonprofit, member-supported trade association that promotes bioscience research, development, manufacturing, job creation and overall economic growth in the Greater Los Angeles region. The Council’s programs help local firms gain access to capital, potential partners and business support services. The annual SoCalBio Investor & Partnership Conference has grown to become the region’s premiere showcase for emerging life-science companies and technologies. SoCalBio also promotes technology transfer and workforce training, while informing policy makers and the public at-large about the benefits of the region’s life-science industry.
About the Biotechnology Institute
The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. The Biotechnology Institute’s BioGENEius Challenges encourage students to apply their scientific knowledge to solve some of society’s most pressing issues through biotechnology, allowing them to see the tremendous potential they have to make change in the world.
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