CLIPPED FROMRed Deer AdvocateRed Deer, Alberta, Canada25 May 1998, Mon • Page 15
TORONTO Science whiz-kids Adam Bly of Montreal and Claire Hes-lop of Almonte, Ont., have found they have a lot in common since meeting recently in Texas. They share the same birthday both turned 17 on May 13 and like to hang out in science laboratories in their spare time, after school and on weekends. Its turned out to be a lucrative pastime. In Fort Worth, they each picked up $8,000 US for capturing top honors at the 1998 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which drew nearly 1,200 competitors from 34 countries.
About a dozen Canadian teens from across the country made the prize list, but Bly and Heslop went home with the most cash. In an interview, the two are enthusiastic and exuberant and talk a mile a minute. Its a handy skill when you have to impress judges in a nine-minute presentation in Blys case, and 12 minutes for Heslop. We both had our birthdays on judging day, Heslop says with an infectious laugh. You try to sucker the judges somehow subliminally by mentioning its your birthday. I forgot, a smiling Bly begs to differ. I was so focused on the judging that I woke up at 6 that morning and only at 11 did I think that it was my birthday.
Heslop won first place in the medicine and health category for her project The B in Spina Bifida: The Methionine Challenge. Bly was No. 1 in the biochemistry field with his entry Fusion of Epithelial Cadherin cDNA to Green Fluorescent Protein: Phase H. No erupting vinegar-and-baking soda volcanoes for this pair. They chuckle good-naturedly as they acknowledge that most people dont have a clue about what theyre talking about when they explain their projects. Heslop began her scientific journey at age 14, when she was a volunteer lab technician at Ottawa General Hospital. There was a small discovery that they made… related to the effects of Vitamin A on developing (chick) embryos.
They had a batch of embryos that didnt develop the malformations they were expecting and the only thing they could trace it back to was an amino acid called methionine, which had somehow corrected the batch. I decided I wanted to take that on and discover how far that could go. I spent the last two years examining it through different projects. Folic acid prevents neural tube malformation 50 to 70 per cent of the time, she says. The rest of the time, theres often a developmental defect in the metabolism and no amount of folic acid can correct that. So what Im looking at is something that will work in the times when ordinary preventive medicines will fail. And thats methionine amino acid.
CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada07 Jul 1997, Mon • Page 14
She has already been offered scholarships at two prominent U.S. universities, even though she is only in Grade 11. But she is also the quintessential teen. “I do do other things,” she said. “I’ve co-hosted a couple of art shows in school and I’ve displayed some art in Almonte. A lot of painting. And I like going out with friends.”
Miss Heslop’s scientific prowess at the international level started largely because of a Grade 8 science fair project on Lactancia milk, which sent her to compete in Whitehorse in 1995. “As soon as I got a taste of what the competition is about and how much they really honour these young Canadian scientists, I wanted to do it again. The more I became involved in medicine and science the more I began to appreciate it,” she said. Her quest to help find a cure for spina bifida a congenital neural tube defect that causes vertebrae to protrude in roughly two per cent of the population began two summers ago with the help of May Griffith, a University of Ottawa assistant professor of cellular and molecular medicine and Heslop family friend.
Dr. Griffith had a post-doctoral student under her direction who didn’t have enough time to continue some research related to the effects of vitamin A on chick embryos. High levels of vitamin A are known to cause spina bifida. The student found that methionine was somehow linked to embryos that didn’t develop malformations. Miss Heslop decided to take the study on and, under the supervision of Dr. Griffith, has been trying to determine how methionine can prevent developmental defects. Her project garnered a gold medal at the Canadian national high school science awards last spring in Regina, but to comply with the rules of the international competition, Miss Heslop completely redesigned her study. Dr. Griffith is amazed at how intuitive a scientist Miss Heslop has become. “I think (her research is) very impressive for a high school student We’re hoping to be able to publish it in some form.” “We’re looking at one part of the spinal cord that hasn’t been looked at,” Dr. Griffith said. “So anything new is significant, but of course this is an animal model so when you talk about a cure there’s this whole process of going from animal models, all kinds of animal models, to all the clinical trials.
This is way, way, way before that. I would consider this basic science research.” Meanwhile, the national capital region has reason to celebrate the efforts of another science whiz-kid. Ottawa’s Christopher Tremblay won a silver medal at last week’s Canada-Wide Science Fair held in Timmins for his project, Interactions Subatomiques. The 18-year-old OAC student at College Catholique Samuel-Genest in Gloucester has spent some 4,000 hours on a computer program that traces the three-dimensional interaction of subatomic particles in an accelerator.
CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada23 May 1998, Sat • Page 28
CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada30 May 2000, T
Emergency Medicine: Dr. Heslop – New Faculty Appointment
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“I had no idea I was in the top 20 until I received a text about it from a friend”
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