Student moves ahead in competition

Photo courtesy of Julie Dunkle Julia Ransohoff was named one of 40 national finalists in the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search, called the 'Super Bowl of Science.'

Menlo-Atherton High School senior Julia Ransohoff will have the opportunity to share her research with noteworthy scholars in Washington, D.C. after being named yesterday one of 40 national finalists in the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search, called the "Super Bowl of Science.”

The 17-year-old learned the news of moving ahead exactly two weeks from being named one of 300 students from 176 high schools nationwide who were named semifinalists. The contest drew 1,608 contestants vying for prizes up to $100,000. As a semifinalist, Ransohoff received $1,000. The school received an equal donation. Yesterday, she received an additional $5,000 and a new laptop powered by Intel. As a finalist, Ransohoff will travel to Washington, D.C. for a week-long event in March during which she will compete for a $100,000 grand prize by presenting her research. Top finalists will be selected based on rigorous judging sessions while in Washington, D.C. and announced during a black-tie gala ceremony at the Mellon Auditorium March 10.

Ransohoff previously explained she always enjoyed science but hoped to do more than replicate work proven previously by others. Through her interest, she applied for a summer research program at Stanford University. She ended up spending time at Lucile Packard learning about the heart and lungs. While this gave her clinical background, Ransohoff was eager to get into the research. While working with Sonja Schrepfer, Ransohoff was able to do the clinical research for the project she used for the competition: "The Gender Divide: Does Donor Gender Matter for Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation?”

When a person has a heart attack, some of the heart cells die. Stem cells are being tested in an attempt to restart growth of those cells.

Ransohoff used stem cells from bone marrow from male and female mice to see if the gender from which the cells came made a difference. She hypothesized that female cells would do better since females, in general, have better heart health. However, female cells were not as successful as male cells.

The last time a student attending class in San Mateo County was nominated was during the 2001-2002 school year.

For more information and updates about the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search join the semifinalist Facebook group at or follow Twitter updates at

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