New Westminster student is a National Biogenius – and a local inspiration
New Westminster Secondary School student Iveta Demirova began a research project in HIV/AIDS immunology in grade 10. This week, she was honored for winning one of the most prestigious biotechnology competitions in Canada – the Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition.
“You are an inspiration for your school and for the district, and what you have accomplished is truly remarkable,” New Westminster School Board Chair Jonina Campbell said Tuesday as she presented Iveta with a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement on behalf of the board.
Iveta, now in grade 11, developed her ground- breaking biotechnology research with Health Sciences Professor Dr. Ralph Pantophlet, gaining hands-on laboratory research experience at Simon Fraser University. Her work exploring the development of “antibody-scaffolded membrane–fusion inhibitors” for HIV-1 therapy could have significant implications for those living with HIV but who are resistant to current treatment options. NWSS Principal John Tyler noted that Iveta competed in the 2016 International Biogenius Challenge in San Francisco in June where she was recognized with an honorable mention.
Elite student research projects in the SBC competition have ranged in topic from AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, to agriculture and environmental sustainability. The competition is being promoted at NWSS this year, with Iveta highlighted in the competition’s promotional poster – and volunteering to offer support and insights into her own experience to the next competitors.