Gold Medal for University's iGEM Team
Congratulations to the Department's three undergraduates who were: Matthew Booth (St John’s College), Oliver Vince (University College) and Leroy Lim (St John’s College).
OxiGEM team. Top row from left: Andrew Russell, Timothy Ang, Matthew Booth, Philipp Lorenz, Glen-Oliver Gowers, Dr Ciaran Kelly (supervisor), Jack Hoffman, Dr George Wadhams (supervisor), Sian McGibbon. Bottom: Leroy Lim, Francesca Donnellan, Emily Pritchett, Oliver Vince, Corinna Oswald
iGEM attracts thousands of high school, undergraduate and post-graduate students from across the world. In 2014, over 240 teams competed, comprising around 2,500 students from 32 countries. Teams use the principles of Synthetic Biology, the “Engineering of Biology”, to design biological parts, devices or systems to address a real-world problem or to perform a novel, previously unseen function. The best ‘parts’ of every project are then submitted in the form of a ‘BioBrick’ to the iGEM BioBrick registry for use by others.
Novel biosensor and simple waste-disposal unit
The Oxford iGEM team, supervised by academics across Oxford, including Professor Antonis Papachristodoulou from Engineering Science, Dr Ciarán Kelly and Dr George Wadhams from Oxford Biochemistry, addressed the problem of chlorinated waste disposal with their home-use bioremediation kit codenamed DCMation - a simple, safe waste disposal unit. The kit comprised a 3-D printed chassis containing engineered chlorinated waste degrading bacteria and a reporting biosensor to indicate complete waste breakdown.
The team integrated experimental work with biosystem modelling and engineering, policy and practices to produce a project of high enough quality to win a Gold Medal in the Giant Jamboree, recognising the fulfilment of all the competition criteria; a rare feat for an inaugural team.
Putting engineering knowledge into practice
The undergraduate Engineers of the team said “iGEM was great experience over the Summer and provided an excellent opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary team. It was a fantastic way to put our engineering knowledge into practice and to gain insight into the amazing world that Synthetic Biology is. We had a great time working amongst friends and we would strongly recommend all current second year students to try and get involved”.
Professor Papachristodoulou said “To achieve its enormous potential, Synthetic Biology needs strong engagement from engineers. The Oxford iGEM team demonstrated what cross-disciplinary collaboration in this area can accomplish”.
Our thanks to the team's sponsors: Oxford Biochemistry; BBSRC; the Society for General Microbiology; the Wellcome Trust; The Biochemical Society; SnapGene; and Desktop Genetics; without whom the project would not have been possible. We are also grateful for the support given by the following colleges: University; St John's; St Edmund Hall; The Queen's; and Oriel.
- If you are interested in pursuing a doctorate in Synthetic Biology, studentships are available at SynBioCDT