The UCL student team competing in the 2016 International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Synthetic Biology competition has enjoyed another early success being one of only 4 teams to be awarded a $5,000 grant from global Swiss agribusiness Syngenta AG.
This year’s UCL iGEM team, BioSynthAge, is investigating ways in which synthetic biology can be used to address the health challenges of human ageing. One of the team’s targets is to map the effects of oxidative stress in the human body. Their proposal to Syngente involved development of tools in simpler organisms, such as yeast, to dissectoxidative stress effects.
Reflecting on this achievement, team member Yuqiao Liu, (MSci Natural Sciences) commented, “We are very excited that Syngenta selected our proposal for funding and cannot wait to get started on the research. UCL Biochemical Engineering staff have provided excellent laboratory support and scientifc input to help us develop our ideas into fundable research proposals’.
iGEM is an annual student synthetic biology competition which started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2004. Since its inception iGEM has grown from five participating US universities into an international competition spanning over 300 universities from across the world. Syngenta AG is a global Swiss agribusiness that produces agrochemicals and seeds. As a biotechnology company, it also conducts genomic research.
UCL Biochemical Engineering has hosted UCL iGEM teams since 2009, harnessing the department’s position as a centre of excellence in industrial application of synthetic biology. This year the UCL Faculty of Engineering Science and Department of Biochemical Engineering is again supporting UCL participation in iGEM. Dr Darren N. Nesbeth (UCL Biochemical Engineering) coordinates the team’s efforts and commented, “This is another great success for this year’s team. It really is an honour for myself and colleagues at UCL Biochemical Engineering to work with passionate and hard-working students from across UCL”.