October 24, 2012 - 1:03am
BY RAYZA GOLDSMITH
In case Biology 172 wasn’t challenging enough for you freshman year, don’t fret, the Michigan Synthetic Biology Team is here to help.
The team, which has competed in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competitions since 2006, works to create biological systems. They use biological units called Biobricks — which are essentially DNA created to formulate new biological systems — according to LSA senior Josh Atkinson, an undergraduate member of the team.
Atkinson said the group puts DNA into E. Coli cells to create proteins for various purposes. One would be hard pressed to find a Biobrick in any recognizable technologies, but Atkinson explained that synthetic biology is an emerging field, and the iGEM competition has only existed since 2004.
The team consists of about 15 University students, primarily from the College of Engineering and LSA, but Atkinson said the group is looking to expand so it can begin preparing for competitions year-round.
This year the team competed against more than 40 other Universities in the iGEM 2012 Americas East Regional Jamboree — held in Pennsylvania between Oct. 12 and Oct. 14 — and was awarded one of numerous gold medals distributed at the competition. The team was also given the award for the best new Biobrick from a natural source.
Next up for the team is a trip to the World Jamboree in Boston, one of 14 invitees from the regional competition to be granted a spot in the world competition.