Today, Natalie Serratos from Oak Park & River Forest High School took first place at the Illinois BioGENEius Challenge, an annual student science and research competition hosted by the iBIO and sponsored by Horizon Therapeutics.

Serratos was selected from among 14 Illinois high school student semi-finalists for her research that focused on Cloning Escherichia coli to Serve as an Analog Recorder of Tetrathionate within the Gastrointestinal Microbiome as a Basis for Mutation Detection. This year, students from across the state submitted projects that researched medical, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology. These projects had to align with one of the three challenge areas: Global healthcare, global sustainability or global environment. Employees from Horizon Therapeutics, Medline Industries and Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP served as the judges for the competition.

Participants hailed from Oak Park River Forest High School and the University of Chicago Laboratory School.

“The BioGENEius competition provides students with a unique opportunity to compete and be recognized for outstanding research in biotechnology,” said Ann Vogel, Senior Vice President of Charitable Programs at iBIO. “We look forward to rooting on Natalie in the International Competition taking place in a few months.”

Serratos will go on to represent Illinois in the International BioGENEius Competition in June. Due to COVID-19, the competition will also be conducted virtually. The top three competitors will receive cash prizes. The International BioGENEius Competition brings together the best and brightest students from the U.S. and other countries and is regarded as the most prestigious high school sciences competition in the world for original research in biotechnology.

“We are proud to sponsor the BioGENEius competition and congratulate all the 2020 Illinois participants for their creativity and remarkable dedication to their research projects,” said Geoff Curtis, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer of Horizon “Research leads to breakthroughs and it is important that we encourage this next generation of researchers to continue to explore and experiment as they progress through their academic careers and beyond.”

About iBIO

The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) is a life sciences industry association that represents the 85,000 life sciences employees at member companies, universities, service providers and venture firms. iBIO promotes the industry’s value to the public and policymakers; connects innovators to investment and talent; stimulates collaboration and fosters the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to transform patient lives through groundbreaking research and works to grow the Illinois economy.

iBIO’s public charity, the iBIO Institute, delivers industry-led STEM programs for teachers and students, thereby inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education. To learn more about iBIO and its programs, visit