Almost all of my research experience comes from iGEM, so it would be in my best interest to explain what iGEM is, right?
If you would like to watch a video in regards to iGEM presented by Wendell Lim, professor at UCSF:
Wendell Lim: iGEM at Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus 2009
So what is iGEM?
iGEM is the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition.
A science fair in essence, focusing on Synthetic Biology.
What does that even mean?
Researchers and engineers from different backgrounds come together to design or re-design and construct new biological parts, devices, and systems for useful purposes.
What is the goal of this competition?
One of the aims of the competition is the attempt to build simple biological systems from standard, interchangeable parts and operate them in living cells open-source. These interchangeable parts are coined “BioBricks.”
Remember Legos? Yeah. That stuff you played with when you were a kid. Now imagine if manipulating a biological system were that easy; where you could take parts out of a box and piece them however you please to create new systems. That’s the idea behind the “BioBrick.”
Obviously there are touchy subjects in regards to this goal such as Patents, ethics, and etc, but the idea is quite cool.
What kind of projects are allowed in iGEM?
Almost any idea you can think of that involves science.
Some very cool and innovative ones include:
-bacteria derived blood substitute (UC Berkeley 2007)
-microbial arsenic detector (Gaston Day School 2007)
-new cellular organelle (UCSF 2007)
You mentioned it was a competition? What do you win?
Aside from the priceless opportunity to learn how to research, basic laboratory techniques required of molecular manipulations, and an amazing experience to interact with brilliant minds across the globe; your team gets engraved onto an elusive giant sized Silver Lego Brick.