SPECIAL REPORT: Greenbrier High School senior awarded for research on Alzheimer’s Disease

Alexander Kirov won a $40,000 scholarship in the Siemens Foundation National Competition

AUGUSTA, Ga.–  Greenbrier High School senior, Alexander Kirov, has been awarded a big prize in the Siemens Foundation national competition for high school students. Kirov placed third out of  some 2,000 students who entered the competition.

THE STORY:

A local student has been awarded a very big scholarship for his outstanding research into Alzheimer’s Disease. Alexander Kirov’s project in the Siemens Foundation National Competition focused on the triggers of Alzheimer’s at the cellular level, which lead to thinking, memory, and behavioral disorders…  and ultimately death.

One of the judges, Dr. Fredrik Vannberg, says this teenager’s research could potentially prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. He is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Alexander discovered an interesting and novel link between exosomes – the tiny fluid-filled vesicles or sacs released by many cells – and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. His findings identify new pathways for treating Alzheimer’s that could potentially prevent the disease from developing or slow its progression in patients.”

“You know, what Alexander did was one step and there are many scientists doing similar things, and if we all work together with the goal of eliminating this disease, at some point we will reach that goal.”

And the clock is ticking. One in 9 people over age 65 is affected with Alzheimer’s and nearly 2/3 of Americans with it are women.

Greenbrier High School senior, Alexander Kirov, could be the person who unlocks the key to curing Alzheimer’s Disease. He recently won a $40,000 in the Siemens Competition, coming in third out of some 2,000 students in the Foundation’s annual science competition.

Alexander still beams when he talks about the process.

“It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, the Siemens Competition was, and it really went in stages. Every next step was such a thrill to accomplish, like going over another hurdle. Very rough regional judging here at GA Tech, it was very well done and challenging.”

He made it all the way to the national finals!

“Hosted by George Washington University, the Discovery Education found great judges and everybody was focused on making it a good, fair experience. I met so many other people from around the country. It was just so interesting talking with people who share your passion for discovery and hear about their research.”

But don’t think this is just some ampped up science fair– the focus here is on the science. And the research, at least in Alexander’s case, is helping unlock mysteries.

Alexander’s mentor, Dr. Erhard Bieberich, is himself a star in the field of Alzheimer’s research.

“He taught us a lot of things, he revolutionized one of the ways we quantify the damage that is done during Alzheimer’s Disease. And he will have his place as an author on a paper that we will publish on this.”

Jennie: “Published, as a high school student!”

Dr. Bieberich: “Yes, doesn’t matter, he has a great brain.”

As for the future? Alexander has a lot more time in the classroom!

“I have a goal of being a clinician scientist, having my own research, just like my mentor, Dr. Bieberich, while also being able to see patients and direct application to research. There’s so many other neuro-degenerative diseases but for now, for the near future, I definitely want to stay focused with Alzheimer’s Disease just because I have very good experience in it.”

Dr. Bieberich would be happy to work with Alexander again one day, saying,  “I’m very proud and I’m very thankful that he achieved what he could achieve- whenever he wants to come back in to the lab I have a place for him.”

More than 5 million Americans have  Alzheimer’s disease now, and in less than a decade doctors expect to see a 40% increase in Alzheimer’s patients. Alexander says he believes his work has contributed to scientific knowledge by pinpointing a place where progression of the disease can be interrupted.

 

REPORTER NOTES:

I met Alexander in January and was blown away by his brains- and his poise.  He speaks way over my head (just wait until you see his abstract) but he is considerate, thoughtful in explaining his work, and very polite.  It is exciting to think that something Alexander discovered during the course of his research project. with a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, could lead to a prevention for Alzheimer’s one day!

Be sure to watch my full report with Alexander Thursday at 6pm & 11PM on WJBF NewsChannel 6.

 CLICK HERE TO WATCH as Alexander explains his winning project.

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Alexander placed 3rd in the Siemens National Math, Science, Technology Competition, out of appx. 2000 students. 3rd PLACE!

 

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Here’s Alexander with his project.

 

 

Alexander with his mentor, Dr. Erhard Bieberich.
Alexander with his mentor, Dr. Erhard Bieberich.

 

Working with his mentor, acclaimed neuroscientist Dr. Erhard Bieberich, Kirov’s research earned him a place in a published paper AND a $40,000 scholarship from the Siemens Foundation.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH as Dr. Bieberich talks about community support.

Can you understand this?  It’s Alexander’s abstract explaining his work.

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RELATED: Student wins $40,000 in national science competition.
Siemens Competition 
For the 2016 Siemens Competition, 2,146 students submitted applications from 46 states plus the District of Columbia and 7 countries. 498 students were named Semifinalists and 96 were named Regional Finalists. The students present their research in a closed, online forum, and entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional competitions: Georgia Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (November 4-5), California Institute of Technology and University of Notre Dame (November 11-12), and Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Texas at Austin (November 18-19).

About the Siemens Foundation 
The Siemens Foundation has invested more than $90 million in the United States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math. The Foundation’s mission is inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning that is the hallmark of Siemens’ companies. Together, the programs at the Siemens Foundation are helping close the opportunity gap for young people in the U.S. when it comes to STEM careers, and igniting and sustaining today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.  For further information, visit http://www.siemens-foundation.org or follow @sfoundation.

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world.

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