BioGENEius Challenge: All You Need to Know

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Using a test tube

BioGENEius Challenge: All You Need to Know

Montana State University researchers have recently found a new way to edit RNA using CRISPRs. This could lead to treating lots of genetic diseases by editing RNA right in human cells. This study is pushing the boundaries of biotechnology—just like what you can do in the BioGENEius Challenge.

If you’re eyeing the BioGENEius Challenge, we’ll walk you through the contest guidelines. We’ll also offer winning tips and insights to help you create an outstanding research project.

What Is the BioGENEius Challenge?

The BioGENEius Challenge, organized by the Biotechnology Institute, is an international science contest for high schoolers showcasing exceptional research in biotechnology. The main event is held at the BIO International Convention, where top qualifiers from state and regional competitions present their projects to industry and subject experts.

Since 1998, the Biotechnology Institute has been a key national education organization focused on science. Through initiatives like the BioGENEius Challenge, they aim to inspire future scientists to pursue biotechnology and to connect the general public with the scientific community.

A cool thing about the competition is how it focuses on entrepreneurship. They really want participants to think about the commercial side of their work and how their research could be used in the real world.

What Can You Win at the BioGENEius Challenge?

Before heading to the BIO International Convention, you’ve got to be in the top 5% of applicants in your state or region. Once you’re there, you’ll be one of the 16,000 attendees at this annual event. Besides cash prizes, there are the special awards up for grabs in these categories:

  • The Global Healthcare Challenge in Medical Biotechnology
  • The Global Sustainability Challenge in Agricultural Biotechnology
  • The Global Environment Challenge in Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology

As an extra fun part, the contest has the Gene Pool Competition. It is a spontaneous onsite contest that all finalists take part in. It’s a chance to show off your quick thinking and creativity in a more relaxed, yet competitive setting.

The competition gets a lot of attention from the media, so you can expect some serious coverage if you win. The event is also a fantastic opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field. Many past participants have gone on to pursue careers in biotechnology and related areas. The recognition you can receive from this event can really open doors to exciting career opportunities.

How to Join the BioGENEius Challenge

Joining the BioGENEius Challenge is like getting into any science contest—they’ve got some strict guidelines to keep things top-notch. Here’s all you need to know:


Only high schoolers in the United States and Canada can join.

If you’re in the US, kick off your application by joining a local BioGENEius Challenge. They’re held in places like California (Bay Area & Southern), Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. If you’re not in these areas, you can start by joining the virtual At-Large BioGENEius Challenge.

For those in Canada, check out their official page for the next steps. Just like in the US, you’ll need to be a top participant in Canada to compete internationally.


Now, you need to pick a challenge track:

Tracks Projects considered
Global Healthcare Your project focuses on the intended outcomes of novel work in healthcare-related sciences. Project examples:


  • mapping genome elements
  • developing new molecular pathways
  • creating cell-cell interactions
  • druggable targets
  • novel proteins or small molecule therapeutics
  • vaccines
  • drug delivery methods
  • bioproduction of therapeutics/vaccines
  • Nanobiotechnologies
  • medical devices
  • diagnostics
  • data analytics related to human health
Global Sustainability Your BioGENEius Challenge project focuses on the intended outcomes of agricultural applications. Project examples:


  • genetic manipulations for optimal crop growth under adverse conditions
  • symbiotic relationships to enhance yield
  • soil improvements
  • disease control
  • value-added foods for human and animal benefit
  • improvements in animal health and reproduction
  • food security
  • data analytics related to agricultural biotechnology
Global Environment Your project focuses on intended outcomes of work impacting industrial and environmental issues. Project examples:


  • bio-based degradable materials,
  • bioremediation and waste reduction/conversion efficiencies,
  • marine-based products
  • new or improved biofuels production
  • biological processes for materials production
  • reducing toxic emissions and greenhouse gases
  • data analytics related to industrial and environmental biotechnology


To complete your application, you need to prepare and submit the following:

Requirements Details
Basic information This includes essential information about yourself, your school, your parent/guardian, and your mentor.
Project information Your research project must have:


  • Project Title
  • Project Abstract (max 250 words)
  • Project Description (max 55 words)
  • Project Poster (This must be in PDF and must summarize your research visually. To do this, follow the poster guidelines provided by the BioGENEius Challenge.
Authorization forms You, your parent/guardian, and your mentor need to provide authorization. They’ll receive a link to give their approval.


The deadline for the At-Large BioGENEius Challenge is May 17, 2024. For state and regional events, check their deadlines here.

Once you’ve got everything ready, head to the BioGENEius Challenge application portal. Create an account and follow the instructions in the email you’ll receive.

Tips to Stand Out at the BioGENEius Challenge

Winning the Biogeneius Challenge takes a mix of scientific smarts, creativity, and clear communication. Here are some tips to help you do your best:

1. Know your project inside and out.

Judges want to see that you’ve got a solid grasp of the subject matter. To show this, think about how you can explain complex scientific ideas in a simple and clear way. For example, if your project involves genetic engineering, be ready to talk about the specific techniques and tools you used, like CRISPR-Cas9, and how they were used to change genes.

Be ready to talk about what your research could mean. If your project looks at how gene editing could help in farming, explain how this technology might lead to crops that grow better or can resist diseases.

2. Tackle a problem in a new or different way.

To be original, think about how you can approach your research question from a unique angle. Instead of studying a gene that’s already well-known, look into a gene that’s not as studied but could be really important in biotechnology. Judges like projects that bring fresh ideas and solutions to biotechnology.

Also, think about how you can be innovative in how you do your research project. If your project involves testing a new drug, think about how you can design your experiments to get stronger and more reliable results than other studies.

3. Make your project relevant.

You need to clearly show how your project connects to biotechnology. If your project is about a new way to make biofuels, explain how this is connected to biotechnology by talking about the biological processes or organisms involved. Talk about the environmental and economic benefits of your research to show its relevance.

Show how your research helps move biotech forward. If your research makes a biotechnological process more efficient, explain how this could save money or help the environment. Judges want to see projects that fit with biotechnology principles and can really make a difference in the world.

4. Express your ideas clearly.

Use simple language to explain complex stuff, so the audience can follow along easily. As much as possible, avoid using technical words. This way, the public can also understand what your project is about and how you did it.

Also, think about how you present your ideas. Use clear headings and lists to organize your thoughts, so it’s easy for judges to see the main points and how they connect.

5. Make a poster that looks good and tells your story.

Making a poster that looks good and tells your story is key to grabbing the BioGENEius Challenge judges’ attention and getting your points across. Use a neat and professional design with clear headings, pictures, and diagrams that match your research. Use charts or graphs to show your data visually.

reviewing write ups

6. Practice Q&A.

Being ready to answer questions about your project is super important for showing you know your stuff during judging. Think about what questions they might ask based on your project, and practice your answers to make sure they’re clear and to the point. Be ready to explain why you did things a certain way in your research.

Practicing Q&A sessions can help you feel more confident during the competition. This can boost your chances of doing well.

7. Seek feedback.

Before the big day, ask mentors, teachers, or friends for feedback on your project and presentation.

Constructive criticism can help you see where you can improve and make your submission stronger. For example, if your mentor says you should reorganize your project to make your argument clearer, think about their advice and make changes. This way, you can make sure your project is well-rounded and gets your ideas across effectively.

Feedback can also help you improve your presentation skills. Practice presenting to others and ask for feedback on how you did—like how clear you were, how engaging you were, and so on. This feedback can help you polish your presentation style and feel more confident when it’s showtime.

8. Stay updated.

Keep up with the latest in biotechnology trends and advancements. Staying informed is key for showing you know how the field is evolving. Use current research and developments in your project to prove you’re up-to-date with the latest findings. If there have been recent breakthroughs in gene editing technology, think about how these could impact your project or how your research adds to this changing field.

Being up-to-date can also help you anticipate questions from judges about your project’s relevance and impact. Showing you know about current trends and advancements can highlight your expertise and credibility in the biotechnology field.

BioGENEius Challenge Winning Projects

To up your game at the BioGENEius Challenge, it’s smart to look at past winners and see what made them stand out. Let’s check out a few and see what winning tips we can pick up:

Anshi Paul – 2023 Winner

Project title:Wearable Memory Assistive Device for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients Using Machine Learning Facial Recognition

Project summary

Anshi Paul’s project aims to help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia remember the faces and names of their loved ones. These conditions can make social interactions challenging, especially as they progress. Paul’s solution is a small, discreet device that uses technology to recognize faces and remind users of names through a tiny earpiece.

What makes it stand out

What makes Paul’s project special is its focus on using technology to support social interactions in a natural way. Unlike other solutions, which can be bulky or intrusive, Paul’s device is designed to blend into everyday life. By using affordable, off-the-shelf parts and open-source technology, Paul has created a device that could be accessible to many.

Paul’s project also includes a smartphone app that adds extra features and can track changes in memory over time. This attention to usability and user experience shows a deep understanding of the needs of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Paul’s project has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of people affected by these conditions. As the number of people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s grows, innovative solutions like Paul’s will become increasingly important.

Close-up Of Scientist Hands With Microscope Examining Samples And Liquid

Meena Ambati – 2021 Winner

Project title:Identification of Fluoxetine as a Direct NLRP3 Inhibitor to Treat Atrophic Macular Degeneration: Molecular Modeling, Mechanism, Morphometry, and Meta-analysis (Year 2)

Project summary

Meena Ambati’s winning BioGENEius Challenge project tackles the challenge of treating atrophic macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness in people over 50. AMD is currently hard to treat, with no FDA-approved therapies available. Ambati’s research focuses on a specific aspect of AMD, the degeneration of retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), which is linked to the activation of a certain inflammatory process in the eye.

What makes it stand out

Ambati’s project is unique because it explores the use of fluoxetine, a common antidepressant, as a potential treatment for AMD. By using computer simulations, lab experiments, and studies in living organisms, Ambati shows that fluoxetine could inhibit this inflammatory process, offering a new approach to treating AMD. Additionally, an analysis of health insurance records suggests that people taking fluoxetine might have a lower risk of developing AMD.

This research is significant because it could lead to a new, effective, and affordable treatment for AMD, benefiting millions of people worldwide. By repurposing an existing drug, Ambati’s approach could also save time and money compared to developing new drugs from scratch. This work highlights the importance of finding new uses for existing drugs and collaborating across different scientific fields to tackle complex diseases like AMD.

Neil Deshmukh – 2019 Winner

Project title:An Adaptive, Low-Cost Device for Offline Medical Analysis Utilizing Neural Networks with Reinforcement Learning Optimization

Project summary

Neil Deshmukh’s project focuses on improving medical analysis with an affordable device. His project uses clever technology called Neural Networks, which are trained to recognize patterns, like symptoms of diseases. The device can identify and suggest treatments for over 1500 diseases accurately, almost like a real doctor. It runs on a small computer called Raspberry Pi, making it accessible and inexpensive.

What makes it stand out

What makes Deshmukh’s project special is how it uses smart technology to diagnose and treat diseases affordably. Using Neural Networks trained with a method called reinforcement learning, the device can quickly and accurately detect diseases, potentially speeding up diagnosis. It can also analyze biometric values and vocal tone, which could help detect cognitive decline.

The device’s ability to scale up and its potential to make a difference in medical care worldwide are exciting. It can help doctors identify high-risk patients and make their work more efficient, ultimately saving lives and money. Deshmukh’s project is a big step forward in medical technology, showing how innovative ideas can improve healthcare for everyone.


The BioGENEius Challenge gives you a cool chance to show off your cutting-edge biotechnological research and make a real difference. You get to tackle real-world problems and connect with industry pros, which not only helps you grow as a scientist but also sets you up to be a future leader in the field. It’s a game-changer. Follow your passions and leave a mark on the world.

forensic science student examining a sample in microscope


Who can join the BioGENEius Challenge?

If you’re a high schooler in the US or Canada, you can join the BioGENEius Challenge. In the US, just jump into a local challenge in spots like California or join the virtual At-Large BioGENEius Challenge. For Canadian students, check out their official page to see how you can compete internationally.

What are the kinds of research that the BioGENEius Challenge accepts?

In the BioGENEius Challenge, you can choose from three main categories: healthcare, sustainability, and environment. For example, you could research novel proteins in healthcare, enhance crop yield for sustainability, or work on biofuels for the environment.

When is the deadline of the BioGENEius Challenge?

The deadline for the At-Large BioGENEius Challenge is May 17, 2024. If you’re aiming for a state or regional event, check their specific deadlines. Once you’re set, head to the BioGENEius Challenge application portal, create an account, and follow the instructions in the email you’ll receive.

Why is the BioGENEius Challenge prestigious?

The BioGENEius Challenge is highly competitive. Getting to the finals is a huge accomplishment—it requires students to be in the top 5% of their local or regional science fairs. Plus, rubbing elbows with industry leaders at the main event could kickstart a student’s career in biotech.



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