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Curtin researchers mentor finalist in 2013 BioGENEius Challenge

Media release

A Year 11 Perth Modern School student, under the guidance of Curtin University biomedical science researchers, has been announced as one of only two Australian finalists in the International BioGENEius Challenge.

Professor Erik Helmerhorst, Mrs Wu, Jamin Wu, Professor Philip Newsholme, and Dr Kevin Keane.
Left to right: Professor Erik Helmerhorst, Mrs Wu, Jamin Wu, Professor Philip Newsholme, and Dr Kevin Keane.

The BioGENEius Challenge is an international competition involving students from across the USA, Canada and Western Australia. The competition invites top high school students into a laboratory, giving them the chance to work alongside experienced scientists to complete their own biotechnology research project. WA’s top two students will be selected to represent the state in the international competition and, together with their mentors, will travel to the USA to compete with other winners.

Jamin Wu, 14 years old from Waterford, spent six months researching how the diabetes drug IM40 impacted human beta cells and whether the drug increased glucose consumption or insulin secretion.

His laboratory research was overseen by three Curtin scientists,Dr Kevin Keane, Professor Erik Helmerhorst and Professor Philip Newsholme, all from Curtin’s School of Biomedical Sciences.

Professor Newsholme, Head of School of Biomedical Sciences, said the BioGENEius Challenge provided a great chance for talented high school students to work with some of the top researchers in the biotechnology field.

“It also provides us researchers with a great mentoring opportunity and I truly enjoyed mentoring Jamin,” Professor Newsholme said.

Jamin said he had long been interested in science and hoped to one day become a research scientist specialising in either the biomedical or engineering fields.

“As part of the program, mentors were allocated to us based on our preference for different areas of science, and as my interest lay in medical science, being paired with Curtin biomedical science researchers was ideal,” Jamin said.

“Diabetes is a significant area of research within the medical world that is still open for exploration, and I very quickly became engrossed in the research with the support of my mentors.”

Jamin will travel to Chicago in April to compete in the International BioGENEius Challenge. His trip is fully funded by the Western Australian Department of Commerce.

Curtin’s School of Biomedical Sciences has been part of the International BioGENEius Challenge for five years.