Windsor 16-year-old wins national science contest

Tasnia Nabil, 16, won $5,000 and a trip to San Diego in a national science competition for her work on a potential cancer therapy.

Tasnia Nabil awarded $5,000 and a trip to San Diego for work on potential cancer therapy

Tasnia Nabil, a 16-year-old student at Vincent Massey Secondary School, took home the top prize at a prestigious national science competition in Ottawa. (Rob Heydari/CBC)

A 16-year-old student from Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor took home the top prize at the national final for the Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition held in Ottawa on Monday.

Tasnia Nabil won for her research project called "A Novel Computational Approach to Advance Ferromagnetic NanoTherapy as a Therapeutic Solution for Cancer," which looked into new ways to calculate the impact certain microscopic nanoparticles can have on cancerous cells in the human body.

"It injects magnetic nanoparticles into the body... this creates heat to affect the cancer cells," she explained. "My project is more of a computation tool to pre-determine the parameters necessary to do the therapy in real life."

Nabil wasn't working on actual cancerous or human cells. "I created a computerized tumour in my software, and I added something that would simulate the heat from the nanoparticles ... that can show me how the cancer cells are being affected," she explained. 

Tasnia Nabil poses with the poster for her project 'A Novel Computational Approach to Advance Ferromagnetic NanoTherapy as a Therapeutic Solution for Cancer.' (Jessica Rose/Sanofi Biogenius Canada)

The high school student has been working on this project for the past three years, and credits her parents with being supportive from her childhood onward.

"I was basically born a curious child," said Nabil. "I think I maybe spent over thousands of dollars just trying different things, and my parents didn't question me once."

'Everyone had such amazing projects'

The final in Ottawa featured winners from nine regional Biogenius competitions across the country.

Nabil said she was a bit surprised to take home the top prize. "I was competing against eight other competitors from across Canada ... everyone had such amazing projects, I couldn't even read the titles," she said.

Buying nanoparticles can get expensive...

5 years ago
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Buying nanoparticles can get expensive... 0:37

Five hundred dollars of the prize money will go to Vincent Massey Secondary School and the rest of the $5,000 going directly to Nabil, which she said she'll likely use to purchase more nanoparticles to conduct research with.

As the Canadian winner, Tasnia Nabil will travel to San Diego in June for the international Biogenius challenge.