Cultivation of Synthetic Biology with the iGEM Competition
Thiprampai Thamamongood*1, Nathaniel Z. L. Lim*2,
Trevor Y.H. Ho*2, Shotaro Ayukawa*3, Daisuke Kiga*4,
and King L. Chow*2
*1Department of Biological Information, Tokyo Institute of Technology, J2-1707, 4259 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 226-8503, Japan
*2Division of Life Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong
*3Education Academy of Computational Life Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 226-8501, Japan
*4Department of Computational Intelligence and Systems Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, J2-1707, 4259 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 226-8503, Japan
The main goal of synthetic biology is to create new biological modules that augment or modify the behavior of living organisms in performing different tasks. These modules are useful in a wide range of applications, such as medicine, agriculture, energy and environmental remediation. The concept is simple, but a paradigm shift needs to be in place among future life scientists and engineers to embrace this new direction. The international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition fits this purpose well as a synthetic biology competition mainly for undergraduate students. Participants design and construct biological devices using standardized and customized biological parts that are then characterized and submitted to an existing and ever expanding library. Overall, iGEM is an eye-opening learning experience for undergraduate students. It has made a strong educational impact on participating students and cultivated a future cohort of synthetic biology practitioners and ambassadors.
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