Miami, April 2018 – A science fair project is generally a contest where participants present their science experiment, results in the form of a report, display board, and/or models that they have created. The main intention of a science fair is for students to answer a question or task, not from a textbook but found out themselves by conducting a range of experiments and ongoing research in the short amount of time allocated to them. This was the case of Christian Prestegard, a Junior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I have always had a passion for science, and high school has allowed me to pursue that passion in ways I never imagined, including working in the lab at Larkin”, Prestegard said.
Science fairs also provide a mechanism for students with intense interest in the sciences to be paired with mentors from nearby colleges and/or universities, so that they can access to instruction and equipment that the local schools can not provide.
- Where did you get the idea for this project from?
This idea was one that Dr. Uddin introduced to me when I joined the lab, as they were already working on it before I arrived. Originally I was planning on doing research in ADHD, which is what led me to Dr. Church. She, in turn, introduced me to Dr. Uddin, as his research offered me more time in the lab.
- What research did you do?
My research was optimizing film dosage forms for buccal delivery. Basically that means making film dosage forms that will dissolve as fast as possible in a patient’s mouth. A film dosage form, for those who don’t know, is a thin-film design used to administer drugs into the bloodstream. The most famous, albeit non-medical, example of a film dosage form is Listerine’s breath strips. Optimizing these films can be done a few different ways, from the polymers used to make them to the chemicals added during the mixing process. We tried manipulating all of these variables to see how they would affect the time to disintegration.
- What was the most surprising experimental challenge you faced during this science project? How did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge I faced during this project was making the films homogeneous. Oftentimes the solid polymers used to create them would clump together and not dissolve, so I had to treat those individually in order to mix them into the solution. Additionally, bubbles would form in the films during the mixing process. This problem was one I actually solved later on in the school year by placing the films in the incubator overnight.
- Why are your findings important?
My findings are important because film dosage forms are something that could really revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs in these films can take effect in the same time as those in a vaccine, but in a totally non-invasive and harmless film. One of the future applications we’ve wanted to implement is the addition of epinephrine into these films, which could potentially lead to the replacement of EpiPens.
- Who helped you?
Dr. Uddin and Amanda Allon were my biggest mentors in this research, teaching me everything about background, procedures, and future experimentation. Of course, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with these fine people without the guidance of Dr. Church.
Alongside his research, Prestegard is also a member of the Pine Crest School’s band as well as the varsity rowing team. If you or someone you know would like information about Larkin University and/or how our faculty could mentor you for research projects, please visit www.ularkin.org or call us at 305-760-7500.