BY A STAFF WRITER
JERSEY CITY, NJ -- A 17-year-old Indian American student Indrani Das from New Jersey was among the 40 young competitors in one of the country’s oldest science and math competitions honored at the annual Regeneron Science Talent Search Awards Gala for their research projects demonstrating exceptional scientific and mathematical ability.
Nearly one-third of the 40 finalists were Indian Americans.
The winners announced at the gala took home more than $1.8 million in awards provided by main competition sponsor, Regeneron.
Das 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, according to a Regeneron and SSP joint statement.
In a laboratory model, Das showed that exosomes isolated from astrocytes transfected with microRNA-124a both improved astrocyte uptake of glutamate and increased neuron survival.
Indian American Arjun Ramani, 18 of West Lafayette, Ind., took third place in the competition, winning $150,000.
Ramani was chosen for blending the mathematical field of graph theory with computer programming to answer questions about networks, the statement said.
Three other Indian American students also placed in the top 10, including Archana Verma in fifth place, Prathik Naidu in seventh, and Vrinda Madan in ninth.
Verma, 17, of Jericho, N.Y., received a $90,000 award for her study of the molecular orbital energy dynamics of dyes, which may someday result in windows that produce solar energy.
Naidu, 18, of Potomac Falls, Va., received a $70,000 award for his creation of a new machine learning software to study 3-D interactions of the human genome in cancer.
Madan, 17, of Orlando, Fla., received a $50,000 award for her study of 24 potential compounds for the treatment of malaria, in which she found two potential candidates that appear to target the disease-causing organism in a novel way and may warrant further study.
The remaining 30 finalists each received $25,000.
The finalists come from 34 schools in 17 states. They were chosen from a group of 300 scholars named earlier in the month.
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