Assumption student earns silver at science fair

Fighting Diabetes
Posted on 06/03/2024

A novel idea to help put an end to diabetes has earned an Assumption student a silver medal at a national science fair.

Sohila Sidhu, a Grade 12 student at Assumption College Catholic High School won a silver medal excellence award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair held in Ottawa from May 25 to June1.

Her research project focused on a method of converting urinary stem cells into beta pancreatic cells which could be used for stem cell replacement therapy to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, or even for full organoid creation for transplant surgeries.

Although conducting actual human trials with such a method could still be a decade away, her work certainly impressed the judges at the fair.

“One of the judges told me, ‘Back in my day, this used to be science fiction. Thank you for making this fact,’” she said. “That really touched me.”

It’s not the first time Sohila has won an award for pancreatic research related to diabetes. In 2022, she earned a bronze medal and the Sanofi Biogenius Award at the Canada Wide Science Fair in New Brunswick for creating a prototype of an artificial pancreas.

Besides the silver she earned at this year’s fair, she also received a Youth Can Innovate Award, which recognizes an exceptionally innovative and original STEM project that demonstrates a practical application in advancing the economic, medical, social or environmental well-being of society.

Sohila said her work is inspired by her mother.

“When I was younger my mother was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her pregnancy with my younger sister,” she said. “I had to watch as she pricked herself every day to test her blood glucose levels. Watching her struggle I was really compelled to make a difference.”

Sohila will be studying neuroscience at the University of Windsor next year and hopes to go to medical school in the future, where she can continue her research.

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