Highlights

2019-2020

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This is the second year of an innovative and exciting partnership between the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center and the Central Bucks School District. Student participants take a course on-site, either AP Chemistry or a Research Elective, and take part in a research internship with a mentor. During this experience, participants also engage in an independent research project.


Despite the impact of COVID-19 closures and interruptions, the 2019-2020 school year was a tremendous success.

2019-2020 Program Participants: Cohorts 1 and 2

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Thank you!

Our program is not possible without the tireless efforts of our mentors and supervisors. Their work is truly the heartbeat of the program. 2019-2020 mentors and supervisors include:


  • Brielle Dalvano, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • Frank Jones, Greene Street Pharmaceuticals
  • John Kulp, PhD, Director of Academic Affairs, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • Aejaz Sayeed, PhD, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • David Schad, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • Darl Swartz, PhD,
    BSBI/Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine/Thomas Jefferson/Temple/TCNJ
  • Roshan Thapa, MD, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute


Thank you to the following EITC donors:

  • Fred Beans Family of Dealerships
  • Fulton Bank Premier Division
  • Norwood Company
  • Softerware, Inc.
  • Waste Management, Inc.
  • Weis Markets, Inc.


We enjoy tremendous support from a multitude of other stakeholders. Though we cannot list them all here, we did want to extend a special thanks to the following individuals:

  • Mark Hayden, CBSD Teacher and Research Adviser
  • Laura Enama, Former CBSD Supervisor of Science, K-12
  • Steven Willis, CBSD Supervisor of Science, K-12
  • Jason Bucher, Principal, Central Bucks High School- South
  • Lori Gallagher-Landis, Principal, Central Bucks High School- East
  • Timothy Donovan, Principal, Central Bucks High School- West
  • Scott Davidheiser, Ed.D, Former CBSD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education
  • Abram M. Lucabaugh, Ed.D, CBSD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education
  • Alexis McGloin, Ed.D, CBSD Assistant Superintendent for Assessment
  • John J. Kopicki, Ed.D, CBSD Superintendent of Schools
  • John Gamble and Members of the CBSD School Board
  • Kimberly Cambra, Nancy Santacecilia, and the CB Cares Educational Foundation
  • Timothy Block, PhD, President,
    Hepatitis B Foundation, Baruch S Blumberg Institute, PA Biotechnology Center
  • Lou Kassa, Executive Vice President and COO,
    Hepatitis B Foundation, Baruch S Blumberg Institute, PA Biotechnology Center
  • Jean Holmes, Vice President, Hepatitis B Foundation, Baruch S Blumberg Institute
  • John Kulp, PhD, Director of Academic Affairs, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • Susanna McGrogan, Executive Coordinator, Hepatitis B Foundation
  • Debbie Blough, Receptionist/Accounting Assistant, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
  • Tim Kelly, Vice President, The Norwood Company

Become a supporter!

Our impactful educational programs are costly. Please consider a tax-deductible gift.

Learn More Here

2019-2020 Highlights

  • Rishi Vaidyanath wins Gold Medal at Delaware Valley Science Fair (DVSF) at the senior-level!

Rishi was the top project among all seniors from all categories at DVSF. In a normal year, Rishi would have earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Anaheim, California to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Unfortunately, that event was canceled this year.


Investigating Synthetic Compounds to Potentiate SMAC Mimetic Targeting Agent


Mentor: Dr. Roshan Thapa

  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 2nd Place, BCSRC
  • 1st Place, DVSF
  • Gold Medal Winner at Delaware Valley Science Fair in the senior-level fair.


In my project, I seek to find anti-inflammatory compounds that could overcome multiple mutations present during HBV infection. These compounds could possibly enhance the efficacy of SMAC Mimetic, drugs that are currently used to treat cancer, and to overcome drug resistance.

  • A head-turning performance at Delaware Valley Science Fair (DVSF), an invite-only event showcasing student research from the entire State of Delaware, the lower-half of New Jersey, and all of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The graphic below shows all senior winners at DVSF, with Biotechnology Center Partnership Program senior participants highlighted in yellow. Our seniors earned 9 out of 47 category awards, nearly 20% of the awards given in this prestigious tri-state event!
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  • One (1) first place award (Rishi Vaidyanath), five (5) second place awards (Erin Greer, Sophie Kadan, Marshall Miller, Andrew Yang, and Samantha Zanine), and three (3) honorable mention awards (Michael Bahner, Madison Charnigo, and Rutuja Kulkarni) at the Delaware Valley Science Fair (DVSF).

  • A $30,000 scholarship to University of the Sciences won by Sophie Kadan at DVSF.

  • Twenty-five (25) earned first awards at Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) Regionals, along with the invitation to the state competition at Penn State University

  • Three (3) perfect scores at PJAS Regionals, earned by Glenda Armas, Oreoluwa Popoola, and Marshall Miller

  • Nineteen (19) earned category awards at Bucks County Science Research Competition (BCSRC), with twelve (12) advancing to the next level of competition

  • A full-scholarship to Delaware Valley University won by Michael Bahner at Bucks County Science Research Competition (BCSRC)

  • Eight (8) special awards at BCSRC, including the top special award offered to a student in grades 11-12 (Isabella Swartz) and the second-best special award offered to a student in grades 11-12 (Sophie Kadan)

  • Twenty (20) graduating seniors pursuing a wide variety of exciting post-secondary paths including many full-scholarships at institutions such as: Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Drexel (Pennoni Honors College), Georgia Tech, Maryland (Honors College), Notre Dame, Penn State (Schreyer Honors College), Pittsburgh (including Pitt Honors Program), Princeton, Purdue (Beering Scholarship), Rochester (REMS), Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and University of Pennsylvania (Vagelos Scholars)

Cohort One / Year Two Participants

These students participated in the 2018-2019 school year and continued this year as seniors. All will graduate from CBSD this June. This special group has achieved at the highest level and paved the way for future cohorts.
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2019-2020 Projects

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2019-2020 Competition Results

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CB Cares Educational Foundation Grant

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This year, we were grateful to receive a grant from the CB Cares Educational Foundation. The very generous grant for nearly $3000 allowed us to purchase a plotter, paper, and ink for printing our research posters. More information about CB Cares Grants can be found here.

Become a supporter!

Our impactful educational programs are costly. Please consider a tax-deductible gift.

Learn More Here

An Exciting Opportunity for High School Students

The Blumberg Institute is excited to offer a two-week, virtual science enrichment program for high school students. This is a hybrid program that offers students online training, as well as experiments that can be conducted in real-time in the safety of the home environment. It is emerging as one of the best summer options available for students in the midst of COVID-19 closures. For program details and fees, download the flyer (above) or visit the website.

Participant Spotlights

Madison Charnigo

Analysis of Potential Exosomal Protein and mRNA Biomarkers for Hepatocellular Carcinoma


Mentor: Dr. Aejaz Sayeed

  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 1st Place, BCSRC
  • Paletti USA Award, BCSRC
  • Honorable Mention, DVSF


My research intends to develop a diagnostic for Hepatocellular Carcinoma by identifying certain exosomal protein or mRNA biomarkers. Exosomes are vesicles released by cells into the blood stream and have contents reflective of their origin. My research is identifying proteins or genes that vary in expression between the exosomes of cancerous and non-malignant cells to identify a trend that can be examined in patient biofluids to non-invasively identify the presence of cancerous liver tissue. A late onset of symptoms and ineffective diagnostics make HCC extremely lethal, taking over 500,000 lives each year. This approach non-invasively identifies the cancer earlier in its progression to allow for current treatments to be more effective.

Marshall Miller

A Sixth Sense: Detecting Invisible Bacteria with Artificial Intelligence


Mentor: Dr. John Kulp

  • 1st Award and Perfect Score, PJAS Regionals
  • 1st Place, BCSRC
  • 2nd Place, DVSF


My goal is to develop an artificial intelligence model to detect an invisible bacteria known as Mycoplasma. This new method of detection could exponentially decrease the time required to publish and validate experimental results. Mycoplasma currently contaminates between 15% to 35% of all cell cultures in US laboratories, causing chromosomal abnormalities and nutrient loss in their host cells. The current gold-standard method of detection required by high impact-factor journals is PCR, an often time-intensive process. A quicker method of Mycoplasma detection would be a great service to the biotechnology community.

Rutuja Kulkarni

Developing a Transdermal Patch Using the Drug Tofacitinib to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis


Mentor: Frank Jones, Greene Street Pharmaceuticals


  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 2nd Place, BCSRC
  • Central Bucks Education Association (CBEA) Award, BCSRC
  • Honorable Mention, DVSF


I am working on making an adhesive patch that can stick onto and dose drug right through the skin into the bloodstream to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have to deal with a lot of unnecessary side effects with current treatment options. My product and research has the potential to make treatment easier because these side effects can be avoided with a transdermal patch.

Sophie Kadan

Characterizing the Pea Border Cell Apoptosis Pathway and its Impact on exDNA Defense

Mentor: Dr. Darl Swartz


  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 1st Place, BCSRC
  • DOW Chemical Company Award (2nd Best Special Award for Grades 11-12), BCSRC
  • 2nd Place, DVSF
  • $30,000 scholarship to University of the Sciences


Border cells are structurally and genetically unique cells that shed off of many plant root tips. After shedding, they respond to metals, plant pathogens, and other aggregates by releasing a DNA mucilage. Functioning as a trapping mechanism, mucilage plays a key role in plant defense. This project aims to characterize the mucilage-releasing mechanism, applying findings to soil decontamination.

Erin Greer

Determining a Protein Biomarker as a Diagnostic Tool for Liver Cancer


Mentor: Dr. Aejaz Sayeed

  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 2nd Place, BCSRC
  • 2nd Place, DVSF


Heptocellular Carcinoma (HCC) affects millions. The treatments we do have are most effective in earlier stages, so I focused on finding an noninvasive diagnostic tool to prematurely diagnose HCC. I collected exosomes, things that cells release naturally, and compared the presence of proteins in cancerous exosomes and noncancerous exosomes. My goal was to find a protein that would signify a liver cell has HCC to help diagnose the disease early. Using the method of diagnosis my research focused on, patients with HCC can be diagnosed earlier; thus, patients have a greater chance of using the available successful treatments for HCC before their conditions get unsaveable.

Andrew Yang

Selective Killing of Cancer with Synergistic Combination of ROS-Regulator and Chemotherapeutic Agents


Mentor: Dr. Roshan Thapa

  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 3rd Place, BCSRC
  • Mideastern Region of PJAS / Council for the Advancement of Public Schools (CAPS) Award
  • 2nd Place, DVSF


My project examines whether a combination of Sodium Ascorbate, a salt of Vitamin C, and cisplatin, a widely used chemotherapeutic drug, can selectively kill cancer cells and not kill health cells. With this project, I hope to optimize chemotherapy regimens to lower dosages while maintaining effectiveness of the drug. In addition, this research could lower side effects of chemotherapy due to lower healthy cell death.

Samantha Zanine

Potential Protein Biomarkers in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells and Exosomes


Mentor: Dr. Aejaz Sayeed


  • 1st Award, PJAS Regionals
  • 2nd Place, BCSRC
  • 2nd Place, DVSF


I have been working to identify a protein in differing concentrations between cancerous and noncancerous vesicles that originate from liver cells. These vesicles, called exosomes, are found in bodily fluids, making them useful in diagnostic testing. Part of the deadliness of liver cancer involves difficulties in early detection. A non-invasive procedure that can diagnose the cancer earlier has great potential in decreasing liver cancer’s currently high mortality rate.

Seniors: Cohorts 1 and 2

Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science- Regional Competition

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An Exciting Opportunity for High School Students

The Blumberg Institute is excited to offer a two-week, virtual science enrichment program for high school students. This is a hybrid program that offers students online training, as well as experiments that can be conducted in real-time in the safety of the home environment. It is emerging as one of the best summer options available for students in the midst of COVID-19 closures. For program details and fees, download the flyer (above) or visit the website.