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CSHL high schoolers finish top 10 in 2022 DREAM Challenge

photo of Peter Koo
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Assistant Professor Peter Koo

A team of high school students mentored by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Peter Koo beat out teams from over 15 universities and private research labs to finish in the top 10 of a recent international competition. The DREAM Challenge was one of eight held throughout the summer of 2022. It tasked participants with building accurate and efficient computer programs for predicting gene expression in yeast. Koo’s team, High Schoolers Are All You Need, was led by CSHL Partners for the Future participants Rohan Ghotra and Ethan Labelson. They placed seventh among 26 teams.

“They competed against grad students, postdocs, and real professionals,” Koo says. “But it’s not like they just got lucky. They know exactly what they’re doing and put in a lot of effort to work their way up the ladder.”

Yeast and human genomes rely on similar processes to control gene expression. The competition sought useful techniques for making accurate predictions in yeast, which can improve software developed to predict gene expression in humans. This may help uncover the origins of genetic disease.

“There aren’t many opportunities to do work at that level in high school,” Ghotra says. “We had great mentorship from Dr. Koo and learned a lot of things along the way. It was quite the journey.”

Written by: Nick Wurm, Communications Specialist | wurm@cshl.edu | 516-367-5940

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