This summer I had the opportunity to act as an adviser to the Cardiff iGEM (International Genetically Modified Machines) team, the first entrant to the global competition from Wales since it’s inception in 2004. The competition is basically to design, produce, and test a novel Synthetic Biology product utilising both denovo designs and the wealth of materials that have been produced by teams over the previous years in and deposited in the BioBricks repository. Truly ‘Standing on the shoulders off giants’.
The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration.
iGEM runs three main programs: the iGEM Competition – an international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology; the Labs Program– a program for academic labs to use the same resources as the competition teams; and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts – a growing collection of genetic parts use for building biological devices and systems.
The team was led by Dr Geraint Parry as the lead PI and I was on hand for the bioinformatic training and support, among other advisors who were specialists in synthetic biology (as I’m certainly not!). The 7 applying students took part in project conception and design, with some suggestions from the advisory team as to what was feasible (!) and they worked over the summer.
We’ve now submitted the project after a few bumps along the road, and the students have documented all their progress, successes, and issues on the wiki which I urge you to check out!
Next stop is the competition in Boston, USA, where we will be showcasing the project and going for a award!