What is iGEM?
The iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition is an international symposium dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology. For over 10 years, iGEM has been encouraging students to work together to solve real-world challenges by building genetically engineered biological systems with standard, interchangeable parts. Student teams design, build and test their projects over the summer and gather to present their work and compete at the annual Jamboree.
The epitome of undergraduate research, iGEM provides an unparalleled opportunity for talented students to administer their own projects, advocate for their research and procure resources for funding. In doing so, the competition promotes creativity, collaboration and curiosity as students develop the critical, analytical, and independent real-world problem solving skills that are difficult to cultivate within the classroom.
Our Project: Bugs Without Borders
UCSC’s 2017 iGEM team is focused on the shortage of supplements and essential vitamins in third world countries. Affectionately dubbed “Bugs without Borders”, this year’s project aims to engineer a Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) microorganism capable of producing a target supplement or essential vitamin in a safe and efficient manner.
For decades the commercial production of insulin has come from a genetically modified form of Escherichia coli and yeast. In recent years, Jay Keasling, a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and CEO of the Joint BioEngineering Institute (JBEI), has made headway in synthesizing an antimalarial drug using yeast and E. coli. Indirectly, the 2017 UCSC iGEM team aims to build off of these methods in order to produce essential vitamins/medicines cited by previously contacted healthcare practitioners in underdeveloped regions. Examples of possible focuses include the growth of an engineered microalgae superfood, synthesis of vitamins B9 (folic acid) and B12, or aspirin.
We hope to seize this opportunity to start a movement that will not only shift the general public’s view of GMO’s, but will also change the way essential vitamins and supplements are synthesized and administered around the globe.
Engineering solutions for a better future requires funding! And due to the cost of registration, lab, and research materials, some students who participate in iGEM projects are simply unable to attend the Jamboree. With your help, we can guarantee that all of our teams members have the opportunity to present their work and participate in the experience of a lifetime!
All charitable gifts may be tax-deductible, and if you are interested in making in-kind donations please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Make your gift today to join us in making a positive impact in the world!
If you're interested in seeing our budget, click here!
To keep up to date with the team and learn more check out our Team Wiki page, Facebook and Instagram!
*Also a very warm and special thanks to Brendan Huong, without whom our beautiful video would not be possible! Check out more of his work here!