U-M Scores in iGEM: The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition   Bookmark and Share

Students representing various disciplines across the University, including the College of Engineering, Business Administration, LS&A, and Bioinformatics, participated in the 4th annual iGEM (The International Genetically Engineered Machine) Jamboree. U-Mís team took third place in the category, Best Real World Application.

EECS assistant professor Domitilla del Vecchio is one of the eight faculty advisors to the team, drawn from equally diverse areas of expertise within the University. Undergraduate EECS students interested in the competition should contact Prof. del Vecchio.

Initiated in 2003, iGEM attempts to answer the questions: Can simple biological systems be built from standard, interchangeable parts and operated in living cells? Or is biology simply too complicated to be engineered in this way? To foster interest and competition among future technology leaders, the iGEM competition invites student teams to design and assemble engineered machines using advanced genetic components and technologies.

37 school teams from across the globe participated in iGEM 2006, more than doubling the participation in 2005.

Michigan took third place in the category, Best Real World Application for their project that looked at the cooperativity of the binding of regulatory proteins to DNA, which is a key design parameter in order to obtain switch-like behaviors and oscillatory behaviors in synthetic biology circuits. In this project, a procedure to increase cooperativity was analyzed, and a model was built to describe such procedure. This model (tested via simulation) predicted that in fact the proposed procedure is capable of increasing cooperativity. Fabrication was then performed following the theoretical predictions. Very preliminary data showed a possible increase in cooperativity in the biological substrate. More experiments are undergoing to confirm this result. This yearís overall winning team at the 2006 Jamboree, from Slovinia, looked into the response of cells to bacterial infection.