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'Inspiring' teens with 'research virus': Expert-mentored bioscience contest proves a powerful vector
Date:2/20/2013

Testimonials and responses to a survey from 375 past teen participants in a Canadian biotechnology competition -- mentored in professional labs by expert scientists -- show a majority of respondents were influenced by the experience to pursue science research studies and careers, offering a model for countries worldwide to advance their health and economic interests.

In a survey of 375 past participants by Bioscience Education Canada, which runs the "Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada," 84% said their participation helped determine their field of study or career plan; 74% were pursuing biotechnology-related education or professions, with 12.5% undecided. Some 55% were current university students, 24% planned to apply after high school, and 21% were post-secondary graduates now in the workforce. Nearly 60% of respondents were female and 79% had or have bursaries and/or scholarships.

"This program has been infecting teens with what one mentor calls the 'research virus' and inspiring bioscience careers since 1994," says Jeff Graham, who Chairs the Board of Toronto-based BEC. "And with hundreds of dedicated partner organizations and mentors nation-wide, we are extremely proud of the success achieved so far as we mark the 20th annual competition in 2013."

Unexpected bonus benefits from the competition experience for many teens over the past 20 years have ranged from six-figure scholarships, a fast track to medical school, valuable networks and commercial patents to peer-reviewed journal citations and international conference invitations.

But the reward cited most often by SBCC alumni is the eye-opening experience of watching their inventive ideas succeed and being encouraged in a professional lab, creating in many a career-shaping passion for science.

"That's a benefit shared throughout Canada's economy, which has a growing, $86 billion biotechnology sector, as well as with people worldwide," says Mr. Graham.

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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
Bioscience Education Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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