Undergraduate Team of Synthetic Biology Engineers Head for First Competition

Georgia Tech iGEM Team Heads to International Event

For the first time, Georgia Tech will have a team competing in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) scheduled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology November 6-8.

Led by advisors Eric Gaucher, associate professor in biology, Joshua Weitz, assistant professor of biology and physics; Mark Styczynski, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Richard Joh, a physics graduate student, the group includes 13 undergraduates from the College of Sciences and College of Engineering. The team will compete against 130 other teams from the United States, Latin America, Europe, Canada and Asia.

Since spring 2010, the team has focused on a project designed to synthetically engineer heat- producing bacterial cells in response to exposure to cold environments. By examining various organisms' methods of heat production, the team has identified a promising candidate in the AOX gene used for thermogenesis in many plant species. Successful engineering of bacterial cells that heat and aggregate in response to cold shocks will facilitate understanding the evolution of cold resistance and the development of biosensors for environmental temperature monitoring.

According to Weitz, "The iGEM team embodies Georgia Tech's commitment to undergraduate research and highlights the importance of biology in shaping research and technological challenges faced by both engineers and scientists."

Initiated in January 2003, the iGEM competition is considered the premiere undergraduate synthetic biology competition. Georgia Tech's inaugural iGEM team includes the following members: Mitesh Agrawal, Margo Clark, Robert Fee, Christina Graves, Atta Hassan, Scott Holmes, Monica Huynh, Gita Mahmoudabadi. Christian Mandrycky, Debika Mitra, Amy Schwartz, Shadeah Suleiman and Siddharth Tantia.

Georgia Tech iGEM Team
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Georgia Tech's first International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team will compete at MIT Nov. 6 - 8.