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Second Place 2020/21

Utrophin upregulation as a possible dystrophin replacement in DMD patients

Competition Material

Elevator Pitch Video

Poster Presentation Video

Meet the team members

Gabriel Berberi

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2nd year student majoring in Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec


Fun Fact: I speak 4 languages and have already been to 25 countries!

What's next for you: I will continue studying at McGill to earn my BSc. I also want to stay an active first responder with the McGill Student Emergency Response Team and an undergraduate researcher at the Ndao lab in the RI-MUHC. Eventually, I would like to enroll in a graduate program where I aim to contribute to the scientific and medical communities through research and clinical medicine.

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Jean Pierre Abdallah

2nd year student majoring in Physiology at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec


Fun Fact:  I work as a private trainer in my free time using a science-based approach trying to put back the science into every workout.

What's next for you: After finishing my Physiology Major, I aim to apply to a medical school to follow my ambitions and dream of being able to effectively help people. At the moment, I am in the Lebenese Red Cross but I hope that when I get back to Canada I would be able to keep on helping people with the help of the Canadian Red Cross. In addition, I just started my undergraduate research in Dr. Anmar Khadra’s Lab on travelling waves and I can’t wait to contribute to the scientific community.

Why did you choose your project?

We chose to work on a project that involves Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) because it’s one of the most common and deadly types of muscular dystrophies, with patients hardly making it past 25 years of age. We were hoping to learn more about this heartbreaking condition, and possibly shed light on novel approaches that could help scientists treat DMD for good.

What has IgNITE taught you?

Participating in this project has taught us how to work together as a team and collaborate virtually with one another in order to come up with a wonderful research proposal. IgNITE provided us with a unique opportunity that showed us how to think big and how to be creative. Finally, it allowed us to become more familiar with the scientific literature, and how to navigate it properly without being overwhelmed in order to find the relevant information that we need

Do you have any advice for future competitors?

Gabriel: If there is one thing that I recommend for future competitors, it’s to choose a topic that is truly interesting to you! This will allow you to work with passion and it will make your journey truly unforgettable, regardless of whether you win or lose; because at the end of the day, the experiences you gain will be the most valuable.


Jean Pierre Abdallah: For any future competitors, I would like to say is that while you are choosing a topic don’t be discouraged by the amount of information available and try to contact as many researchers and professors as you can since they will most certainly guide you in the right direction by giving you valuable information that no book or research paper could.

Meet the team mentor


Abdus Mohammed

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Hello everyone, my name is Abdus and I am a Western student, doing my 3rd year in the Bachelor of Medical Science program, specializing in Physiology and Pharmacology. I am currently researching how the levels of hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes are altered during pregnancy, which will hopefully give useful information that can help determine appropriate doses of several drugs to pregnant women.

My IgNITE journey

I cannot believe I almost missed out on such a wonderful opportunity of being an IgNITE mentor. I did not expect to be involved until an IgNITE VP—a high school friend of mine—told me I would make a great fit as a mentor, so I decided to give it a try because I enjoy meeting new people and helping people find success. Although I had no prior experience as a mentor, the IgNITE team did a very good job orietning the mentors and introducing them to their roles. 

A message to my team

As a mentor, I could not have asked for a better group of mentees. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate group #11 for achieving a well-deserved 2nd place in this year’s competition. Not only were Gabriel and Jean-Pierre intelligent and hardworking, but they also inspired me to work harder as their mentor. It was a pleasure working with them this year and I expect great things from them in the future, as they have already proven themselves quite capable.

Advice for future competitors

To any future competitors, I have two pieces of advice. First, scientific work is never an individual effort, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and make use of all the resources available to you. Also, make sure to pick a topic that interests you personally, because your work will be of the best quality when you are motivated to find out more about your topic.

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