Nuffield Research Placement student Sarah Sobka wins UK Young Scientist of the Year 2015

16 March 2015

Congratulations to Sarah Sobka who has been named as UK Young Scientist of the Year at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

Sarah won the competition with her project to investigate whether a drug commonly used to treat irritable Bowel Syndrome could be used to treat cystic fibrosis, a life-shortening inherited disease, affecting over 10,000 people in the UK. She undertook her project while on a Nuffield Research Placement at the University of Sheffield Biomedical Sciences department in summer 2014 under the supervision of Dr Louise Robson

People with cystic fibrosis have a faulty gene which affects their ability to produce a particular protein (CFTR) that moves salt and water out of a cell. Sarah was part of a team that investigated the effects of the drug Lubiprostone, which promotes fluid secretion in the intestine, on CFTR channels.

Jim Al-Khalili, Chair of the Science and Maths judging panel said: “What is so brilliant about Sarah is that she is incredibly smart, but could also explain her project in such a clear and understandable way. She is a true champion of science and engineering and will bring something special to the sector."

Sarah advised young people: “If you take every opportunity that you get, you can do a lot with science.”

Video courtesy of the National Science + Engineering Competition.  

More Nuffield prize-winners

Student name

Project title


Abiola Renee Nyamekye

Factors on whether a child gets immunised in West or Sub-Saharan Africa

CREST Communication and Context Prize

Boateng Opoku-Yeboah

Ultrasonic App For Non-Destructive Testing

Google Creative Technology Prize

Cassie McGregor

Characterising the impact of Escherichia Coli O157:H7 secreted proteins on bovine white blood cell surface proteins

CREST Communication and Context Prize

Charlotte Duff

Investigation of potential biomarkers for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Royal Society of Chemistry Prize

Chelsea Herbert

The Characterisation of Early Colorectal Cancer Development

Highly commended project, science/maths category; London International Youth Science Forum Prize

Ellen Piercy

Reducing Acrylamide Content in Wheat Using Genetic Modification

Highly commended project, science/maths category

Lucy Wiseman

Testing the effect of epithelial fish cells exposed to cosmetics containing nanoparticles

CREST Communication and Context Prize

Maria Thankachan

Characterising the gene Deltex-2 (DTX2) – A gene involved in Autism Spectrum Disorders

RCUK Prize for the Best Use of Research

Selina Tsai

Molecular Mechanisms of Centromere Formation

Highly commended project, science/maths category