WASHINGTON D.C.— Germantown Academy junior Jason Wang '22 won a second place Grand Award and a $2,000 cash prize at the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the category of Biomedical and Health Sciences.
“Over a million high school students participate in science fair competitions around the world every year, and this year a little over 1,800 of them were invited to participate in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair after winning first place honors in their region,” said Upper School Science Department Chair Jamie Anderson. “Jason’s second place grand award in the Biomedical and Health Sciences category is an enormous accomplishment. He competed with the some of the most talented student scientists in the world, and his project stood out as one of the very best. He should be very proud of this tremendous accomplishment.”
Due to the world pandemic, this year’s fair was virtual, but the competition was just as fierce as it always is at ISEF, which is the most prestigious science fair in the world. This year’s fair featured student scientists from over 75 countries.
Wang found out he won while watching the YouTube livestream during a free period at school on May 21.
“The awards were presented by places, so all the fourth place awards in each category were announced, then third place, etc.” said Wang, who qualified for ISEF by finishing third overall in the 11th grade category at the Delaware Valley Science Fair. “I would honestly have been overjoyed to receive any award at ISEF, which would already be a dream come true, and when I didn’t see my name show up for either fourth or third place I let go of most of my hopes. However, a few minutes later, when I saw my name pop up on the screen for second place, I was in pure shock for a few seconds, and then I started to wildly cheer and celebrate.
“We all have life changing moments that all come down to just a few minutes or even a few seconds. Well, I experienced two of the moments along this arduous yet rewarding science fair journey. The first was when I qualified for ISEF from DVSF (the regional science fair competition), and the second was this moment when I won second place at ISEF. On both occasions, I was overjoyed beyond words. I’ll never forget how I felt when I heard the name “Jason Wang '' being announced during the awards ceremonies.”
Wang’s project, entitled Chronic Sleep Deprivation Induces Brain Inflammation via CCR2-Mediated Peripheral Monocyte Infiltration, examines potential underlying mechanisms for how sleep deprivation can increase the risk for developing neurological disorders in later life.
"People who suffer from sleep deprivation throughout their lives are much more susceptible to developing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in later life," said Wang. "However, we are not familiar with the underlying mechanisms through which this occurs."
In short, Wang's study looks to examine potential underlying mechanisms for how sleep deprivation can increase the risk for developing neurological disorders later in life, and ultimately he wants to use this study to identify potential therapeutic targets to reduce these risks.
Through his project, Wang identified one potential underlying mechanism:
Sleep Deprivation damages the blood-brain barrier which allows for peripheral monocyte infiltration into the brain. This activates brain microglia, which causes brain inflammation, and ultimately degenerates the brain to increase the risk for developing neurological disorders in later life.
Wang also identified a potential therapeutic target to reduce the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on the brain
“The findings of my study present a novel link between sleep deprivation and neurological disorders,” said Wang. “In addition, by identifying a potential therapeutic target, my project opens the door to developing drugs to combat the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation.”
Like GA science fair winners of the past, Wang spent countless hours researching his thesis and developing his project and various materials for science fairs.
“Winning this award really means everything to me,” said Wang. “I remember over a year ago when I embarked on this project, I would always look at the ISEF website, read about past winners, and marvel at their achievements. I used their accomplishments and success as my motivation, but never did I think that I would be standing in the same place as them. This is truly a dream come true! I could never be here today without Mrs. Kesten, the support from my teachers, and the opportunities at GA. I’m so honored to represent GA across the world.”