Don Whitley Scientific Limited were recently approached by Professor Nigel Minton from the University of Nottingham requesting some sponsorship to enter a global competition. 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, collaborative community. iGEM runs the iGEM Competition – an international team competition made up of predominantly undergraduate students interested in the field of synthetic biology.
We spoke to one of the team – Daniel Partridge (pictured below) – to find out more about the competition and what it means to him personally. Dan is a 3rd year BSc student studying Biotechnology. We asked him:
Can you explain the project you are working on? Our project centres on the Clostridium difficile bacteriophage. With the increase in antibiotic resistance, we need to develop a more precise method to attack the pathogen C. difficile, as this bacterium can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious bowel problems.
Do you play a specific role in the iGEM team? There are 10 students and five supervisors in the team. We started out with specific roles. There are three lab teams: two are trying to reduce toxin production of C.difficile using genetic engineering techniques – RNA interference and CRISPR dCas9 – and the third group is the promoter team (contribution). The non-lab teams look at human/outreach, financing, computing and modelling.
How many teams are in the competition? There are about 400 teams across the world.
What do you think you will get out of the competition personally? I am going into my 3rd year so the opportunities this competition will provide to get into problem solving and thinking-on-the-spot will be invaluable in my future career. With the sheer number of scientists that will be in Boston, it will be a fantastic networking opportunity. I understand that we may also be given the chance to look round the laboratories of some organisations in the area.
Don Whitley Scientific recognises the importance of initiatives like this that strive to further scientific breakthroughs and we are happy to support the team. We wish Dan and the team the very best of luck in the competition and hope that their project brings home the grand prize. Click here to learn more about SBRC Nottingham.
More About iGEM
iGEMers state that they are building a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology. The iGEM Competition inspires nearly 6,000 students each year to work in teams to address unique challenges in their local communities.
They celebrate team achievements at the annual Giant Jamboree by showcasing projects from participating teams and awarding medals, prizes, and the grand prize, the BioBrick trophies.
Their aim is to inspire responsible innovation through efforts in biosafety, biosecurity and public outreach.
The iGEM community is made up of international trailblazers from over 45 countries around the world.
In 2017 iGEM launched the After iGEM program. This program supports over 30,000 iGEMers – students and instructors – who have gone through the competition since its inception in 2004. This global network is leading the field, taking what they learned in the competition and expanding it to continue to build a better world.