In Washington, D.C., on March 14, 2017, the Society for Science & the Public and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) announced that Indrani Das, 17, of Oradell, New Jersey, had won the top award ($250,000) in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition (previous sponsors of the Talent Search were Westinghouse and Intel). Forty finalists, including Indrani, were honored at the annual Regeneron Science Talent Search Awards Gala for their research projects demonstrating exceptional scientific and mathematical ability, taking home more than $1.8 million in awards provided by Regeneron. Indrani won the top award of $250,000 for her study of a possible approach to treating the death of neurons due to brain injury or neurodegenerative disease. A contributor to neuron death is astrogliosis, a condition that occurs when cells called astrocytes react to injury by growing, dividing, and reducing their uptake of glutamate, which, in excess, is toxic to neurons. In a laboratory model, she showed that exosomes isolated from astrocytes transfected with microRNA-124a both improved astrocyte uptake of glutamate and increased neuron survival. Indrani mentors younger researchers and tutors math in addition to playing the piccolo trumpet in a four-person jazz ensemble. Second place honors and $175,000 went to Aaron Yeiser, 18, of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, for his development of a new mathematical method for solving partial differential equations on complicated geometries. Partial differential equations are ubiquitous in science and engineering and are currently solved using computers. He developed a more efficient way to do this and applied it to the challenging field of computational fluid dynamics.
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