Plano brother and sister named regional finalist award in prestigious Siemens competition

Siblings Phillip and Kimberley Yu are pictured with science teachers Deanna Shea and Stephanie Peterson of Shepton High School.

Kimberley and Phillip Yu, a dynamic brother-sister duo attending Plano West Senior High School and Shepton High School, respectively, captured Regional Finalist standing in the 2012 Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science & Technology for their science research about a fatal degenerative brain disease.

An additional 10 students from Plano ISD were named Semifinalists in the same prestigious competition, an annual event that reveals the brightest high school minds in contention for the nation’s most coveted teen science prize.

The Yus’ research focuses on frontotemporal dementia, a fatal degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s. Chronic inflammation may play a key role in causing this disease; thus, the main goal of the students’ project was to identify the roles that two key disease proteins play in inflammation.

While the first protein surprisingly did not have a significant role in regulating inflammation levels, they found that the second protein significantly reduced levels of inflammation in its normal form. Importantly, a mutated version of this protein found in patients with frontotemporal dementia resulted in higher inflammation levels than the normal version, indicating that people with this mutation experience prolonged inflammation, which may in turn cause the disease. By targeting this protein and its role in inflammation, new drugs and therapies can be developed to treat this devastating form of dementia, which currently has no effective treatments.

Also remarkably accomplished in the area of science research are the following Plano ISD students who were named Semifinalists in the 2012 Siemens Competition. Congratulations to the following young science researchers.

  • Evelyn Ho, Plano Senior High School
  • Jessica Hong, Clark High School
  • Sunand Iyer, Clark High School
  • Revanth Manchenella, Plano East Senior High School
  • Kevin Nguyen, Plano East Senior High School
  • Karisma Sheth, Plano East Senior High School
  • Pranaav Sudheendra, Clark High School
  • Daniel Suh, Plano West Senior High School
  • Michael Trinh, Plano East Senior High School
  • Rui Xu, Plano Senior High School
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