Grade 12 student victorious in international science competition
Grade 12 student victorious in international science competition banner

Grade 12 student victorious in international science competition

In June 2018, Sajeev Kohli won first place and $7,500 at the International BioGENEius Challenge in Boston. Sajeev has been researching new ways to use nanoparticles to deliver targeted treatment for cancer.

The Grade 12 Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary student has entered countless science fairs over the years, but he sees potential for his research beyond a school project. Although Sajeev was excited to share this work at the International BioGENEius Challenge, his focus is not on doing well at a science fair, but on helping people. His current project focuses on nanoparticle-based drug delivery and sees his research as a promising way to treat diseases, like cancer, through a method of building nanoparticles that are carriers to specific cells.

Sajeev has a personal connection with cancer. In Grade 9, he witnessed the devastating toll that cancer and the treatments had on his uncle. Sajeev watched as his uncle fought cancer while, simultaneously, battling the severe side-effects caused by the treatments. These treatments ultimately led to his uncle’s recovery and also a revelation for Sajeev.

“That’s when my perspective on research shifted,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do research to help people, like my uncle, overcome cancer without having to face invasive treatments.”

In September 2018, Sajeev was invited to present his research to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Science Minister Kirsty Duncan at Parliament Hill. He was one of a select group of students from across the country who were hand-picked for this honour.

“I was really excited. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was so much better than I even thought it would be,” Sajeev said in an interview with Waterloo Region Record.

This calibre of research is possible because of Sajeev’s access to local learning environments, like the nanotechnology research facilities at the University of Waterloo. The culture of innovation in Waterloo Region has helped Sajeev turn his idea into promising research. Through collaboration with community partners, Sajeev is looking forward to the next steps in his research and proving practical applications.

Photo Credit: Adam Scotti/PMO