Each year, NAVS has the pleasure of attending the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to select recipients of our Humane Science Award. The Award recognizes students who are developing non-animal methodologies which advance science, and we are proud to be the only animal welfare organization that participates in this prestigious event. By rewarding students who are pursuing innovative scientific endeavors that don’t harm animals, NAVS is making a critical investment in the future of scientific research by providing positive incentives that encourage the next generation of scientists to continue developing humane alternatives.
In this week’s Science First, we’d like to introduce you to this year’s third place winner, Madhav Subramanian from Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. He studied the role of a protein called ETM* in cancer. Many cancer studies that focus on the process of tumor growth and the spreading of cancer cells utilize animal models, however, Madhav made a conscious effort to identify or develop ways to perform these functional tests with cells instead.
NAVS’ judges were impressed that Madhav made a point to identify the need to develop sophisticated cell-based models in cancer research, specifically noting that he developed his three-dimensional, cell-based model “to avoid sacrifice of mice.”
In his studies, Madhav generated blood vessel cells in which the levels of the ETM* protein were genetically altered, and he tested the function of these cells in several different ways. He examined the ability of blood vessel cells that expressed less ETM* protein than normal to grow, spread and form into tubes, and recognized the importance of ETM* in all of these processes. He also investigated whether ETM* could serve as a potential target for an anti-cancer therapy.
Madhav noted, “I have always been fascinated with mimicking processes within our body in vitro. Advancements in three-dimensional culture technology have made it possible to forego the use of animals for scientific research.”
In addition to receiving the NAVS Humane Science Award, Madhav also won the first prize in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category from the Intel Corporation, proving that humane science is better science.
Click here to watch Madhav explain his project in his own words.