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Young scientist's local anesthetic discovery wins top prize at Intel science and engineering fair

Reno, Nev.—Calling it the "highlight of my teenage years," David Christopher Evans was thrilled to accept his first place award from the ADA Foundation for the second year in a row at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Each year the Foundation sponsors three awards at the fair as a way of stimulating interest in oral health research and recognizing the work of young scientists. Dr. Sheila Strock, assistant director, scientific information, ADA Division of Science, served as a judge at the May 10-15 event.

This year, David, a junior from Midvale, Utah, claimed first prize in the oral health category for his project titled, "A Solution for Post-Surgical Pain Control: A Novel Sustained-Release Local Anesthetic Composed of Hyaluronan, Fibrinogen, and Marcaine." He developed an effective and safe local anesthetic that provides a sustained release in excess of 30 hours, thereby eliminating pain for a longer period post-operatively. He was inspired, he said, by his own experience having his wisdom teeth removed.

"I realized that more effective pain management would have been desirable. This, in conjunction with my previous research, was the impetus for this year's ISEF project."

In 2008, David won for "A Novel Anti-Microbial Bone Graft Comprising Microencapsulated Antibiotic Within a Degradable Polymer Coating." The first-place award comes with a $2,000 cash prize. Second and third place are awarded $1,000 and $500, respectively.

"The first-place award I received is truly the highlight of my teenage years," wrote David in a note to the judges following the competition, "and the generous monetary award will be placed in a savings account for future college expenses. Most importantly, I would like to thank the members of the ADA for encouraging my future scientific endeavors, and for this I am forever grateful."

Second prize was awarded to Catherine Yang Fan of San Antonio for her project titled, "Development of a Novel Antimicrobial Bone Graft Substitute for Cranioplasty." She successfully produced a biomaterial with antimicrobial properties using silver nanoparticles.

The third place award went to Shannon Somer Stockton of Orlando, Fla., for her project titled, "The Down-Regulation of Sp1 Protein by Tolfenamic Acid in Head and Neck Cancer." Ms. Stockton tested the effectiveness of Tolfenamic acid in down-regulation of Sp proteins resulting in the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation.

The Intel ISEF is held each May and is the world's largest pre-college celebration of science, bringing together more than 1,200 high school students from 50 countries. Organizations representing a wide variety of scientific disciplines affiliate with the Intel ISEF as Special Awards Organizations. Special Awards sponsorship is open to: corporations; scientific, mathematical, and engineering societies; agencies of the federal government; and colleges and universities. The May 2010 ISEF will be held in San Jose, California.

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