Ossining, Irvington Seniors Earn Top Regeneron Awards

Thomas Cong of Ossining High School

Students from Ossining and Irvington were among the top award winners in the 2024 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the prestigious national science and math competition for high school seniors. 

Thomas Cong, 17, of Ossining High School, won second place and a $175,000 award. 

Christopher Zorn of Irvington High School

Christopher Zorn, 17, of Irvington High School, captured sixth place and received an $80,000 award. 

 Cong and Zorn received their awards at Tuesday evening’s ceremony hosted by Tarrytown-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the Society for Science and emceed by broadcaster Soledad O’Brien. More than $1.8 million was awarded to the 40 finalists from across the nation who competed. 

Cong was selected for investigating the rapid growth of certain cancers and whether information controlling metabolism is primarily controlled by the expression of genetic information. 

He found that immune cancers have pronounced differences in metabolism and gene expression, which suggests that a more complex landscape of metabolic variation exists and gives further insight into cancer studies.                                                                                                                 

Zorn investigated the relationship between RET, a gene involved in cellular signals, and MYC, a set of genes that regulate cell growth and death. He created genetically altered lung cancer cell lines, exposed them to various drugs and measured the MYC protein levels, which appeared at elevated levels and were shown to lead to treatment resistance. 

Zorn’s findings suggest paths for further drug research targeting both RET and MYC. 

The competition, now in its 83rd year, identifies young innovators who become tomorrow’s STEM leaders. The 2024 finalists demonstrated extensive scientific knowledge through research and interviews while showcasing their commitment to addressing societal issues, passion for discovery, noteworthy leadership and community involvement. 

Science Talent Search alumni have gone on to prestigious careers in STEM fields, and some have earned the highest honors in science and math, including the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science and MacArthur Foundation Fellowships.  

In total, Regeneron awarded $3.1 million in prizes through the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2024, including $2,000 to each of the top 300 scholars and their schools. 

Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents, develops and commercializes life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases.  

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search and to all the brilliant finalists,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder, co-chair, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, and a top winner in the 1976 STS. “My own participation in the Science Talent Search during my high school years sparked a lifelong commitment to science and set me on my path of inventing and developing new medicines for previously untreatable diseases. Our finalists are only beginning their journeys, and their extraordinary achievements at such a young age give me hope that they will go on to deliver major innovative breakthroughs that will greatly benefit humanity.” 

Established in 1921, Society for Science is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.

“The remarkable intellect and ingenuity of these students serves as an inspiration for us all,” stated Maya Ajmera, the Society’s president and CEO and executive publisher of Science News. “Their groundbreaking innovations are vital in uncovering the crucial solutions we need now to address our most intractable challenges.” 

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About the Author: Robert Brum