Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Is Inspiring the Next Generation of Teen Scientists

When it comes to nurturing talent, it's best to start as early as possible. This is especially true of scientific disciplines where it's important to start building passion from a young age.

Getting children and teenagers interested and enthused about the sciences is a noble goal for any organization. These are the people who will create solutions to the biggest problems and cures to some of the worst diseases plaguing mankind. One of the most tragic situations imaginable would be that the child who had what it takes to finally cure diseases such as cancer didn't pursue a career in science because their aptitude wasn't recognized at such an important stage in their lives.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals recognizes the importance of nurturing young talent and is willing to put real money down on finding the next generation of scientific minds.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

The New York-based pharmaceutical company is looking to achieve this through its annual Regeneron Science Talent Search. The contest awards prizes totaling in excess of $1.8 million to teenagers who can come up with the most innovative solutions to science's biggest challenges.

"The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are our country's most promising young scientists, and I'm thrilled to congratulate them on this outstanding academic achievement," said President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron, George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. " I can only hope these amazing young scientists build on their success in this year's event and go on to use their scientific talents to address the many urgent challenges we face as a society, from climate change to disease."

The 2019 edition of this talent search has recently concluded, and the winners have been announced. Over 2,000 highly skilled young people entered the latest run of the competition, from which 300 top contestants were selected. This list was whittled down until just 40 finalists remained and the winners were selected.

The 40 finalists were given prizes starting at $25,000, and the top ten contestants were awarded $40,000 to $250,000 in prize money.

The sums are indeed significant, and more than enough to inspire participation - but there is more at stake than simple financial rewards. Finalists and winners also have the opportunity to learn from leading scientists, meet with members of Congress, and display their projects to the public at the National Geographic Society.

"Bright young minds can be inspired by the magic and power of science, and if inspired and engaged, they can go on to make a difference in the world," says Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. "And right now, with all the challenges our world faces we need our best and brightest minds engaged in helping address these challenges. It doesn't matter where these young minds are or come from - the world needs to embrace talent and curiosity, no matter the origin. Bright, talented people are born all over the world, but unfortunately not everyone is born with equivalent access to resources, education and support."

The Winners

18-year-old Ana Humphrey was given the top prize of $250,000 for her mathematical model, able to determine the possible locations of exoplanets - those located outside our solar system - which haven't been detected by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope.

Current thinking in the field says planetary formation creates dynamically packed systems. Ana's model can find "unpacked" spaces where as many as 560 new planets might fit. Her research is likely to further our understanding of the formation of planets and inform the search for extraterrestrial life. Ana is also the first Hispanic first-place winner in 20 years.

The second-place prize of $175,000 went to Samuel Weissman, 17, of Rosemont, Pennsylvania, for his project analyzing the genetic makeup of HIV in two patients on long-term anti-retroviral therapy.

The project set out to understand why these patients have continued to have "reservoirs" of treatment-resistant HIV-infected cells. The research suggests HIV-infected cells both clonally expand and are killed, therefore forming a reservoir of infected cells. The research expands our understanding of HIV and has the potential to impact treatment options offered to sufferers of this terrible affliction.

You can find the full list of winners here.

Final Thoughts

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a great way to foster a passion for science in young people at such a critical juncture in their lives. It's so exciting to see all the amazing and innovative ideas being brought forward, and it will be interesting to see what these bright young minds have in store for the future.

"I couldn't be prouder of this year's Regeneron Science Talent Search top winners, who are already leading the way in scientific research and innovation," said President and CEO of Society for Science & the Public, Maya Ajmera. "Their talent, dedication and desire to make a difference in the world is commendable. Congratulations to Ana, I know her example will inspire other young people to get involved in STEM."

You can find Regeneron Pharmaceuticals speaking on the hot topics in the industry at HR Life Sciences 2019, taking place this December in San Diego, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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