SJAM student wins international science competition

Sajeev Kohli, Grade 11 student

Last week, Sajeev Kohli won first place and $7,500 at the International BioGENEius Challenge in Boston. Sajeev has been researching new ways to use nanoparticles to deliver targeted treatment for cancer. The Grade 11 Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary student is currently completing a co-op placement at the University of Waterloo. Sajeev is no stranger to the University because when he was in Grade 8, he began reaching out to professors asking for access to a laboratory to work on a research idea.

Sajeev explains that he sent out 100 emails to University of Waterloo professors and received 99 rejections but one maybe. He followed up with the maybe and has been assisting in research labs ever since. This year, he is using his co-op placement to pursue his own project that focuses on nanoparticle based drug delivery. He sees his research as a promising way to be able to treat diseases, like cancer, through a method of building nanoparticles that are carriers to specific cells.

Sajeev has entered many science fairs over the years, but he sees potential for his research beyond a school project because of its practical applications in the treatment of cancer. Although Sajeev was excited to share this work at the International BioGENEius Challenge, he feels his research is not about doing well at a science fair, but about helping people.

Sajeev has a personal connection with cancer. In Grade 9, he witnessed the devastating effect that cancer and the treatments had on his uncle. Sajeev watched his uncle fight cancer while also battling the severe symptoms caused by the treatments. These necessary treatments ultimately led to his uncle’s recovery and also a revelation for Sajeev.

Sajeev Kohli working at his UW co-op placement

“That’s when my perspective on research shifted,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do research to help people, like my uncle, to overcome cancer without having to face invasive treatments.”

This type of research can be done because of Sajeev’s access to local learning environments like the nanotechnology research facilities at the University of Waterloo. The culture of innovation in our region has helped Sajeev turn his idea into promising research. Through collaboration with community partners, Sajeev is looking forward to the next steps in his research and proving practical applications.

Congratulations Sajeev! We look forward to seeing the next phase of your innovative research.


Check out Sajeev at the International BioGENEius Challenge: