Each year at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, NAVS selects exceptional young scientists to be recipients of our Humane Science Award. This award recognizes students who are developing novel non-animal research methodologies. As the only animal advocacy organization presenting an award at the world’s largest science competition for pre-college students, NAVS rewards students who are developing humane alternatives to encourage them to continue on that path.
In this week’s Science First, we’d like to introduce you to 2019’s first place winner, Afiya Quryshi from University School of Milwaukee in Wisconsin. She investigated the roles of two proteins called transcription factors in human gastric development and disease. Afiya was drawn to this research because of a personal connection.
“I went into stomach work specifically because there is past history of different gastrointestinal diseases in my family,” she noted. Recognizing that animal models are “not the best option out there,” Afiya sought to instead create human-relevant, three-dimensional organoid models using human induced pluripotent stem cells.
Afiya utilized genetic engineering tools to modify the amounts of the two transcription factors, called GATA4 and GATA6, that were produced in the cells to see their effect on gastric development. In addition, she was able to create human organoids from glands isolated from the normal human stomach in her project and successfully create human-relevant tools for studies of gastric development and disease—a notable step, given that many others in the field continue to rely on animal models.
In addition to receiving the NAVS Humane Science Award, Afiya was also selected as one of 80 high school students worldwide to attend the Research Science Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. We are honored to count her among the growing list of Humane Science Award recipients whose innovative work is recognized by leaders in the scientific community.
Click here to watch Afiya explain her project in her own words.