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
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.