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Only in third year, and already in the Top 30 Under 30

Sarthak Sinha is a third-year neuroscience and psychology student. Because of his work with a professor at the University of Calgary, he was named to the Top 30 Under 30 list by the Alberta Council for Global Co-operation. (photo by Ken Jones)

Sarthak Sinha, a third-year U of T Scarborough student whose family lives in Calgary, says it’s “absolutely incredible and humbling” to be named one of Alberta’s Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Co-operation.

It’s not his first mention on Top 20 or 30 lists and it likely won’t be his last. Sinha, 20, a double major in neuroscience and psychology, began his trajectory toward success at 14. The young immigrant from India discovered the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge, designed to introduce students to science careers, and inquired whether he could take part, even though he was too young to have a strong biology background. Organizers told Sinha that if he could find a university supervisor, he had the green light.

Dozens of emails and phone calls later, he happened upon Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, a University of Calgary professor just establishing his research lab. Biernaskie brought Sinha on board. “It was serendipitous,” said Sinha, who continues to work at the dermal stem cell biology lab every summer while working toward acceptance to a joint MD-PhD program.

“My dream is to continue what I’ve been researching – the possibility of using skin stem cells to regenerate damaged hair follicles and skin that has sustained damage from burns or wounds,” said Sinha.

Despite demanding studies, Sinha finds time for other activities. He serves as a biology facilitator for UTSC’s facilitated study groups (FSGs); he volunteers for the Multiple Sclerosis Society to help him understand the people his research might benefit one day; and he belongs to UTSC’s Médecins sans Frontières club.

“I’m lucky,” said Sinha of his budding career, “but it takes a lot of people’s efforts to make you lucky. Initially, a few people who trust you – such as Dr. Biernaskie and Cindy Bongard at UTSC’s FSG program -- are important to have.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough