Indian-origin winner of Canadian science award to be felicitated

A Canadian resident of Indian origin, 13-year-old Maya Burhanpurkar, who won the Discovery Challenge Award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair 2012, will be felicitated by Mayor Vaishali Bankar today. Maya, who is visiting the city to meet her Puneite grandmother Dr Pratibha Butte, won the award for her work on the impact of two promising Alzheimer’s drugs on the heart and gastrointestinal system.

Making them proud:  Maya Burhanpurkar (second from left) with grandmother Dr Pratibha Butte, mother Shubhangi and father Vivek. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

Her project ‘Uncovering the Cardiac and Gastrointestinal Safety of Two Amyloid-ß Inhibitors’ was conceived after seeing her grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s disease, suffer from severe cardiac and gastrointestinal issues.

Based on her findings, she developed a prototype of a cardio-protective drug for seniors. “My grandfather Prabhakar was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and so I decided to do research on Alzheimer’s drugs,” Maya said. “This made me to go deeper into Alzheimer’s.”

Dr Butte said her granddaughter was the first Indian-origin girl to win the Canadian award. “Maya made history by becoming the first Indian girl to win this prestigious Platinum Award at June’s science fair competition in Canada,” Dr Butte said. “She’s also received a gold medal, the Actuarial Foundation of Canada Award and is getting 14,000 Canadian dollars and prizes along with a university scholarship.”

Maya’s mother Shubhangi said her girl was a gifted child with a high IQ. “She has been invited to speak at the upcoming annual Canadian Conference on Dementia as well as the Canadian Alzheimer Society’s annual assembly soon.”

Maya is now planning a new charitable foundation. “She is planning a foundation called ‘Youth Rise’, which will connect classrooms across the globe via mobile video technology to facilitate a virtual student exchange programme for creating cultural awareness on the global level,” her father Vivek said.

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