Six teams from around the province met in Lethbridge this weekend to learn about synthetic biology, and work with researchers to create a biological device designed to quickly coagulate blood.
Alberta’s future doctors, scientists, and innovators were in Lethbridge this weekend to take part in the geekStarter program. The program, operated by MindFuel, is a provincial initiative that strives to create a new generation of scientists and innovators.
“The geekStarter program engages students, and invites students to participate in real world problem solving using synthetic biology.” MindFuel CEO Cassy Weber said.
The teams have set out to create a Band Aid of sorts, that can be used to stop bleeding in emergency situations.
Using synthetic biology, the teams hopes to create a device that stops bleeding quickly and can be used in remote areas where it can take time for help to arrive.
“You would just take out our product, apply it on, and it would clot your blood,” Pageni said. “When the paramedics get there, they can clean it up, and they can fix you up.”
While it may seem like a daunting task, the students are well equipped: they work with university researchers to learn practical skills.
“A lot of our students who come out of geekStarter program and want to go into medical research or biological research,” Weber said. “When they enter post secondary… they’ve mostly acquired all of that knowledge already through what they’ve learned in geekStarter.”
It is more than hard work and long hours that go into these medical innovations: the students are passionate about science. Anileen Pegani, who has participated in geekStarter for two years, said the program has allowed her to investigate news areas of science, and has even sparked her interest in different scientific fields.
“I’ve seen more of the research side, like bioengineering, and how that is also very helpful to the medical field, and I’m also interested in that field now.”
Pegani will be attending the University of Alberta in the fall, and will be majoring in Physiology with the hopes of attending medical school in the years to come.
Later this year, her and her team will head to the Boston Jamboree to display their medical invention.
MindFuel, with the support of the Alberta Innovates Technology futures awarded the geekStarter teams $16,000 to further their research.