The First Ever ChemBio Hackathon in Bangladesh

Publish Date: 
Sunday, April 30, 2017 - 18:15

The Department of Pharmacy, BRAC University organized the much awaited Award Ceremony of the First Ever ChemBio HACKATHON in Bangladesh on April 30, 2017 at the BRAC University auditorium. A briefing session was hosted at the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), BRAC University where the guests from different Pharma industries and media were present. Seven teams participated in the HACKATHON, which included 33 students from the Department of Pharmacy and 2 students from the Department of Mathematics and Natural Science, BRAC University. The main event, the HACKATHON DAY on the April 1, was a non-stop 11 hours long session, where the teams were provided with resources and logistic support to brainstorm their ideas for the HACKATHON challenges given to them. On April 13, 2017, during the HACKATHON Presentation Day, the teams then presented their results at the BRAC University Auditorium in front of distinguished guests, faculty members from different universities and students. Finally, on the Award Ceremony, Vice Chancellor Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Ph.D and Professor Eva Rahman Kabir, Ph.D announced the winning team of the First Ever ChemBio HACKATHON in Bangladesh and awarded certificates to all participants and the four trainers.

In the First Ever ChemBio Hackathon, the participants were challenged with three different problem sets. The competitors started off with a HACKATHON challenge given to them to design a bacteria similar to a sample bacteria from the Singapore River, the waters of which in the 1970s resembled that of what flows in the Buriganga at present. Using in silico sequencing tools, databases, computational modelling and visualizing softwares, the students made bacterial genetic alterations to engineer a bacteria which is capable of turning the toxic hexavalent chromium (Cr [VI]) into a less toxic trivalent chromium (Cr [III]). The winning team also proposed to craft the bacteria in the laboratory and test it’s effect by using water samples from Buriganga river and, once successful, attempt the actual clean up of the river by bringing along industrial partners. The winners also used different softwares and tools to propose the most workable solutions to two other HACKATHON challenges on computer aided drug designing during the ChemBio HACKATHON. One challenge was to repurpose a drug to treat colon cancer, one of the most prevalent cancer in Bangladesh. The third challenge was to design biologics to prevent tumour growth during cancer. The winning team which includes Hasanul Karim Rafi, Sazzad Zaman Shuvo, Muhammad Sameer Hossain, Nashrah Mustafa and Anika Nawar Mahmood came up with the best solution of the problems on the HACKATHON day among the seven participating team. Shanon Sherwin Moreino, a student of Department of Pharmacy, BRACU also won an award as the best presenter of the First Ever ChemBio Hackathon. Apart from the Award Ceremony, the participants also presented their solutions of the given problems through posters to the distinguished guests. The team with the best poster will be awarded later.

During the Award Ceremony, Professor Andaleeb said that the students have to take ownership of national interests, especially the environment. He pointed out the dramatic changes that have been brought about by BRAC University students in various occasions such as nation’s first ever nanosatellite Onnesha. He also urged on industry-academic ties to become stronger. He also hoped that the water of Buriganga and all other rivers will get the desired oxygen levels and the marine life will return. He asked the students to focus on it by addressing such problems. He further added, BRACU stood out as its faculty engaged students in real time scientific enrichment instead of just imparting lessons in classes and assessment through exams, and this can lead to increased manifolds of the amount of knowledge gained by the students, he said. Professor Eva Rahman Kabir, PhD, Chairperson (Current Charge), Department of Pharmacy, gave the welcome speech and thanked all the distinguished guests for coming to the Award Ceremony. She mentioned that Chem Bio HACKATHON was not just an event but was the beginning of something different, leading to innovation in the world of Data Science and Big Data.

Mohammad Kawsar Sharif Siam, a faculty member of the Department of Pharmacy and an organizer, said the ChemBio HACKATHON aimed to bridge between theoretical knowledge and related scientific solutions to inspire the next generation students so that they engage themselves to address the critical problems of our environment and our health care system.

Shannon Sherwin Moreino, a student of Department of Pharmacy, BRACU, who won an award for the best presentation, hoped for more such competitions to sharpen his skills.

Among the distinguished guests present at the award ceremony day were Mr. Akhter Matin Chaudhury, Chairman & Managing Director, Nuvista Pharma Limited, Kamran Bakr, Chairman & Managing Director, Unilever Bangladesh, Afroz Jalil, Country Manager, Roche Pharmaceuticals, and Sk. Abdul Goni, Head of Market Access & Biosimilar Lead, Roche Bangladesh Limited, Nawabur Rahman, Technical Operations Director, SQUARE Pharmaceuticals Limited, Nakibur Rahman, Marketing Director, GSK and Dr. Ansar Ahmed, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, BRAC University.