Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

May 19, 2011 18:04 ET

Nepean Teen's Spinal Cord Research Earns Manning Innovation Achievement Award

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2011) - A 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Nepean High School in Ottawa Thursday won a 2011 Manning Innovation Achievement Award (www.manningawards.ca) at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Sathya Baskaran was recognized for his work in developing a novel microstructure with bioengineered properties that would be useful in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. The degradable material is designed to enable the spinal cord to regenerate before the microstructures dissolve.

Baskaran was among 509 finalists competing with 425 projects at the 50th annual national science fair held this week at Seneca College in Markham, Ontario. Along with his $500 prize from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, he received a Canada-Wide Science Fair Silver Medal and offers of four university entrance scholarships for his health research project.

"Canada's future success and ability to grow depends on its capacity to innovate in all sectors and is the fundamental reason for the existence of the Manning Innovation Awards Foundation—to support, celebrate and encourage Canadians with the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed," said Foundation President David B. Mitchell. "This is especially important for the young bright minds we meet annually at the Canada-Wide Science Fair."

Baskaran explained that "every year, about 1,400 Canadians undergo intense therapy to repair their spinal cord, but less than one percent receive complete recovery. In the past, therapy was practiced for regeneration. Recent advancement in the use of bio-materials to mimic human anatomy has become forefront in research." For bio-materials to function well in the spinal cord, it is critical that they have sufficient strength and elasticity, he noted.

Working at the Chemical and Bioengineering Lab at the University of Ottawa, Baskaran synthesized and tested to two types of biomaterials. "First, we identified and fabricated hollow fibre membranes with Dip Coated Tubes (DCT) that mimic the structure of bones and facilitate a six-week time frame for the damaged spinal cord to be repaired," Baskaran told judges. However, the DCTs degraded too quickly. "The study overcomes this through polymer synthesis and fabrication of Microsphere Tubes (MST)," Baskaran explained, adding that "subsequent biomechanics characterization showed that the MST performed better than DCT."

Baskaran also investigated a novel approach of adding iron particles to track spinal cord regeneration with magnetic resonance imaging. MRI investigations were performed at the Institute for Biodiagnostics, National Research Council, in Winnipeg.

This was Baskaran's fourth time competing at Canada's national science fair.

NOTE TO MEDIA

Photos available. For more information or to interview students, please contact the undersigned.

The spokesperson for Youth Science Canada/Science jeunesse Canada is Reni Barlow, Executive Director: 866-341-0040 Extn 230 or communications@ysf-fsj.ca

About the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation: The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation recognizes the importance of Canadian innovation in strengthening our nation's capacity to compete in the global economy. The Foundation supports and celebrates Canadians with the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed. Visit www.manningawards.ca for more information.

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