Science & Technology

Off to the Finals: Announcing the CaB Challenge Final 5!

After a much-anticipated wait, the Final 5 CaB Challenge teams have been decided! The judges agreed that every proposal was very well-written and Ryerson Science students came up with many impressive ideas. The proposals were judged on their originality, clarity, and relevance to synthetic biology.

The top 5 teams (in no particular order) are:

Team G: Hussein Hamam, Zubair Sabz Ali, and Syed Ibrahim

Team G wants to tackle transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), which are a collection of rare neurodegenerative diseases that typically result in death within 6 months. They have proposed using antibody drug delivery to develop an effective treatment for TSE.

Team T: Lucia Santos, Robinson Truong, Mariam Mohammed, Harpreet Khassria, and Sadia Mehmood

Team T plans to address Verticillium Wilt, which results in the stunting and wilting of plants. In particular, they want to address the effects of Verticillium Wilt on canola plants, and important food crop in Canadian agricultural and global food production. Team T plans to use synthetic biology to create resistance in canola plants to the pathogens that cause Verticillium Wilt.

Team H: Cristina Conforti, Rahmi Chowdhury, Ivan Boras, Thi Duyen Nguyen, Fardowsa Abdi

Team H is examining the severe consequences of oil spills, which negatively affecting wildlife, and contaminate intertidal areas for decades, due to oil’s low rate of evaporation. They want to do so by using bio-remediation. Team H proposes using A. borkumensis and O. antartica to drive oil degradation.

Team I: Aishwarya Parmar, Jinil Bhavsar, Mitali Kadakia, and Saba Zafar

Team I is addressing cancer, a leading cause of death in North America. They propose using a toxin produced by the bacteria P. paulista, which has been shown to possess anti-cancer properties. They want to fill holes in the current body of research by determining the mode of action of this toxin and what allows it to differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells.

Team N: Nathan Battersby, Riza Unabia, Tanya Aziz, and Cristina Thuppu Mudalige

Team N is challenging the expensive and inefficient methods of extracting cucurbitacin, a chemical compound called a terpenoid. Terpenoids have hundreds of commercial uses and are also used in the treatment of inflammation and atherosclerosis, and have potential in anti-cancer therapies. Team N plans to use B. subtilis and synthetic biology for large-scale cucurbitacin production.

The top 5 teams will be presenting Saturday, March 19th at Ontario Biology Day, being held at Ryerson this year. They will each prepare a 15-minute presentation that will be followed by questions from the panel of judges. If you’re interested in attending, more information can be found here.

Good luck to the Final 5 and congratulations!

Read about two of Ryerson’s teams that competed and what the process was like for them, here.

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Tara Upshaw
Tara Upshaw is a third year Biology student at Ryerson University. When she’s not focused on science, she’s creating platforms for development for marginalized groups in STEM and balancing a quintessential mix of hobbies, from half-marathon running to training therapy cats. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @tupsheezy. If you are interested in contributing your unique perspective as a science student to RUSL, please contact Tara at tupshaw@ryerson.ca