PHS students place second in UC Berkeley bioengineering competition

Left to right: Jamie Schwarz, Josephine Oesterer, Mark Hsia, Jeremy Tuan, and Miles Antaya

On Saturday, April 8, a team of five Piedmont High School juniors competed in BioEHSC™, the bioengineering high school competition at UC Berkeley. Competing against top teams from across the Bay Area, national, and international teams, the Piedmont High School Bioengineering team earned second place out of 54 teams for its video submission. The competition, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Bioengineering Honor Society, is a research and design competition in which teams research diseases and healthcare problems and use the tools of bioengineering to solve the problems.

Teams are comprised of high school students and a sponsoring teacher who are given advice and mentoring from a bioengineering student at UC Berkeley. The team from Piedmont High School — Miles Antaya, Mark Hsia, Josephine Oesterer, Jamie Schwarz, and Jeremy Tuan — were sponsored by PHS AP Biology teacher Shelley Seto-Rosen and mentored by Zhiyuan (Mark) Yang, a UC Berkeley bioengineering undergrad. The team won a trophy and five electronic pocket microscopes they will donate to Ms. Seto-Rosen’s classroom.

Teams submit a three to five minute video that summarizes the important bioengineering aspects of their project. They then submit a research poster, an industry pitch, and make and present a PowerPoint presentation to bioengineering professionals from academia and industry for a series of interviews and evaluation.  

Entitled Using a CADD-Designed IFNAR Competitive Inhibitor to Attenuate the IFNAR-STAT1 Activation Pathway in Lupus Patients and Promote Phagocytosis of Apoptotic Bodies, the team from PHS sought to alleviate the burden that millions of people suffer due to lupus. In lupus, the body’s own immune system attacks the body, resulting in bits and pieces of broken-up cells and antibodies clogging up vital systems, including the kidneys and brain. Current treatment consists largely of broad-spectrum immune-suppressing medications which can make patients more susceptible to infections and many other serious side effects. By adjusting the immune reaction process through bioengineering, the PHS team hopes to greatly decrease the harmful side effects of current treatments, while preserving the functionality of vital organs, and thereby preventing death.

In addition to their accolade for the video, the PHS team were asked to present their project to the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Pitch Symposium at UC Berkeley School of Engineering on April 21.

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