Dhruv Patel & Gurdit Sood place 1st in Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Competition
Congratulations to BHSc students Gurdit Sood and Dhruv Patel on winning first place in the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Competition 2022!
In August, Gurdit and Dhruv drafted a letter of interest (LOI) where they came up with a novel way to increase the efficiency and accuracy of diagnosing meningioma. They proposed a machine learning model that used principles of radiogenomics to predict the methylation status of meningioma as a biomarker which could hopefully better classify meningioma as the WHO gradings are subject to arbitrary reasoning.
Their LOI was selected as one of the top 6 from a total of 13 teams, and the duo advanced to the finals, where they won first place in the competition along with a team from Western. They had the opportunity to deliver a PowerPoint presentation over Zoom to physicians and scientists at the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
The BHSc program really prepared me for this competition from a scientific and interpersonal perspective. The multiple science courses (specifically PHGY and PATH courses) allowed me to get a strong background in neuroscience, cancer pathology, and how current therapies work. Additionally, the large amounts of groupwork in the classes helped me work effectively with Gurdit to create an in-depth project. Finally, taking PHGY 290 was a great introduction to both the research method and questioning current research to identify gaps and develop solutions.
For current students, the most important advice I can give is to never shy away from a challenge. I personally believe new experiences and learning opportunities are the best way to experience personal growth, and it’s why I decided to enter in this research competition. I would strongly recommend everyone to identify current opportunities in a field or area they are passionate in, as well as explore new things to challenge themselves and learn along the way.
I’ve always been very interested in neurology and the field of biomedical computer science, and I’ve loved investigating the intersection between these 2 fields. This research competition gave me the freedom to explore the use of programming for improving brain cancer outcomes, and I was lucky enough to collaborate with someone who was equally passionate about this field. It also let me refine my skills in developing research proposals, which was another great benefit.
The BHSc program helped prepare me for this competition through its vast but in-depth curriculum. From courses like PATH 120 that introduced the complex nature of cancer and tumorigenesis, to PHGY 290 which pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and made me question all components of the scientific process, the program does an excellent job at bringing out the best out of students.
If there is any advice, I can give to any BHSc student, it would be to question everything. Questioning allows us to find gaps in our knowledge, but also to identify gaps in the literature, and this where innovation and creativity can flourish. Never be hesitant to ask questions!
What drew me to participating in this particular research competition was primarily for my interest in cancer research. Cancer is an incredibly complex and heterogenous disease, and I have been fortunate that a lot of BHSc courses do expand on course topics and connect it to disease like cancer.