Name: Marshall Zhang
Hails from: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Student, as in, um, HIGH SCHOOL student
Known for: Possibly discovering a cure for Cystic Fibrosis–or at least laying the groundwork for a breakthrough.
Lemme ‘splain how this went down. Okay, so like me, Marshall Zhang took AP Bio his sophomore year and thought it totally badass.
Alas, this is where our paths diverge: My junior year (it was awhile ago but I still remember quite clearly) I enrolled in Physics and AP Chem, quickly realized I have no place in the elegant world of natural sciences, dropped AP Chem, doodled my way to a B+ in Physics, decided to begin compiling a bitchin’ record collection, declared that “music is my science,” you can figure out the rest.
Zhang decided he needed more than school could offer and asked every professor listed as biochemistry faculty at the University of Toronto if he could work in their labs. Every one said no, except for Dr. Christine Bear, a researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Institute in Toronto. Under the tutelage of his mentor, Zhang was able to do advanced research regarding treatment for the incurable Cystic Fibrosis.
At his mentor’s lab, Zhang used the Canadian SCINET supercomputing network to investigate how two promising new compounds acted against the defective protein responsible for the condition. Using computer simulations, he figured out how each of these drugs acted against the protein and discovered they acted on the protein in different spots, raising the possibility they could be used simultaneously without interfering with each other.
Zhang then tested his theory in living cells, and the results exceeded his expectations.
“They actually worked together in creating an effect that was greater than the sum of its parts,” he told LiveScience.
With this discovery, Zhang took top prize at the 2011 Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, a compeition for students conducting their own research projects with the help of mentors. He and the second place winners will move on to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge in DC next month.
…Man, I can only imagine how many “DAMMITs” have been uttered by all of the lab profs that said, “No kids!” Whoopsie-daisy.
Thanks, Lisa and Tina!
Filed under: Canadiasians, Cystic Fibrosis, Discipline, Dr. Christine Bear, High School Students, Huge Leaps In Science, Marshall Zhang, Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, Science, SCINet, University Of Toronto
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