University of Guelph student’s biomedical research a finalist in national contest

Evan Wright, a third-year engineering student, will present his research on wound simulation and a drug screening platform to a judging panel from the Sunnybrook Research Institute in downtown Toronto on Jan. 9. The winning entry will be announced that afternoon and receive $10,000.

The Sunnybrook Research Prize competition is intended to recognize excellence in undergraduate research and promote careers in biomedical research.

Wright will discuss two biomedical microdevices he helped create at the BioNano Laboratory in U of G’s School of Engineering. One simulates aspects of a wound, and the other allows rapid, high-throughput drug screening and discovery.

Wright said his work is novel with applications ranging from single cell analysis and tissue engineering to point-of-care clinical animal health diagnostics.

“These bio-instruments are new and unique in the fact that they are fast and inexpensive,” he said.

“Especially in a world where ‘superbugs’ and antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem, the ability to quickly test and discover new drugs is vital.”

There are additional benefits to these new instruments for testing, he said.

“The wound model device will help alleviate the need for some animal testing, meaning testing will be faster, require less space, not require permits and be more ethical. The drug-screening device is user friendly, faster and able to perform testing on a potential new drug over a wide range of concentrations in a very short time period,” he said.

Wright joined the BioNano Lab with engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan last summer during a co-op term. That’s where he learned about the Sunnybrook competition.

“I am very excited by the opportunity to go to the research facility, meet researchers who are at the top of their fields, and to have my work judged and critiqued to see what the professional opinion of it was. It really motivated me and pushed me to make my work the best it could be.”

He said his engineering education and his connections at Guelph him prepare for the contest.

“From my classes and research projects in the BioNano Lab, I gained valuable experience with many of the laboratory techniques used,” Wright said.

“Being in an engineering program, a big part of that is learning how to solve problems and how to think of new ideas.”

A full program for the day and list of the student participants can be found on the Sunnybrook Research Institute website here.

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For more information, please contact:

Lori Bona Hunt
Communications & Public Affairs
519-824-4120 ext. 53338
lhunt@uoguelph.ca

Kevin Gonsalves
Communications & Public Affairs
519-824-4120 ext. 56982
kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca