Palo Alto Recent Grad Wins BioGENEius Top Honor

SAN DIEGO, Calif – June 24, 2014 – Today, California exiting senior Emily Wang won the International BioGENEius Challenge, the premier competition for high school students that recognizes outstanding research in biotechnology. A panel of judges found that Emily’s research in developing fluorescent proteins to improve biosensing helped her stand out from the 14 other finalists from across the U.S. and Canada competing for the Challenge’s top prize, a $7,500 cash award.

“We are incredibly impressed by the students participating in the BioGENEius Challenge – their commitment and their important accomplishments”

“The BioGENEius Challenge seeks to support young students who are addressing global challenges in human health, food and the environment using biotechnology,” said Janelle Curtis, VP of Programs for the Biotechnology Institute, the organization that oversees the Challenge. “I’m extremely proud of this year’s finalists and the scientific challenges they took on.”

The winner was named today during a 2014 BIO International Convention’s luncheon, which was keynoted by Sir Richard Branson. The International BioGENEius Challenges is one of the few international competitions to host participants at a leading industry conference, providing students unparalleled access to leading companies, scientists and innovators in biotechnology.

Emily was not only evaluated on the quality of her research, but also on her research poster presentation and responses to questions testing her scientific knowledge. Moreover, the student’s research was reviewed for the potential commercial and practical applications of their project.

Emily’s project, titled, “Illuminating Disease Pathways: Developing Bright Fluorescent Proteins to Improve FRET Biosensing,” seeks to help visualize disease pathways, including cancer metastases.

The second, third, and fourth place winners, who won $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively were:

  • Logan Collins, Fairview High School, Boulder, CO
  • Neil Davey, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD
  • Nathan Han, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

“The young people that we saw on the stage today are the future of our industry and soon will be solving the world’s problems,” said Mark Lievonen, President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited. “Sanofi Pasteur is proud to be involved in a competition that applauds STEM students for their forward-looking projects and commitment to research.”

“We are incredibly impressed by the students participating in the BioGENEius Challenge – their commitment and their important accomplishments,” said Jay P. Siegel, M.D., Chief Biotechnology Officer and Head of Scientific Strategy and Policy for Johnson & Johnson. “The Janssen sponsorship of the BioGENEius Challenge reflects our firm commitment to fostering tomorrow’s biotechnology workforce.”

The U.S. National and International BioGENEius Challenge is organized by the Biotechnology Institute, a U.S. based organization dedicated to biotechnology education. Generous Co-Lead Supporters of the Challenge are Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of global pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Support for the BioGENEius Challenge is also provided by International Supporter: Genentech; and U.S. National Supporters: Acorda Therapeutics, The Allergan Foundation, Alnylam, Pfizer, and Sangamo BioSciences.

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. For more information, visit

About Sanofi Pasteur

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or

About Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

At Janssen we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people throughout the world. For more information, please visit: