A sixteen year old Calgary high school student has been recognized for his work in the ongoing fight against cancer.  Arjun Nair, a Grade 11 student at Webber Academy was awarded top prize in the 2013 “Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada” (SBCC) this week.

His work revolves around an experimental therapy that deploys nano-particles of gold into patients.  These golden “bullets”  accumulate in cancerous tumours and when bathed in laser light rapidly heat up, killing only the cancer cells. The process is known as photothermal therapy (PTT).

The India-born Nair received $5,000 in conjuction with winning the top prize that was judged by a panel of eminent Canadian scientists assembled at the Ottawa headquarters of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).  Arjun’s research also won a special $1,000 prize awarded to the project with the greatest commercial potential.

The judging panel described Arjun’s work as “world-class” and said that the project was of “PhD-level quality,” high praise for a sixteen year old.

“I’ve entered science competitions since Grade 5. I really enjoy taking my ideas and making them happen in real life,” says Arjun, who dreams of doing science in university, and perhaps pursuing a career in medical research.

One of the best parts of the competition for the high schooler was the great friendships he has made. “I’m part of community of students who love sharing ideas and talking science.”

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