iGEM stands for Internationally Genetically Engineered Machine. iGEM is an academic competition aimed at improving peoples’ understanding of synthetic biology while also developing an open community and collaboration between groups. It is the most renowned Synthetic Biology competition for students. The competition began in 2004 and now has over 300 teams competing from locations around the world. The various teams all aim to design and engineer a new method of improving using synthetic biology. Projects range from improving the environment to producing new medicines or materials to colonizing other planets. For more information about iGEM click here.
What is Synthetic Biology?
Synthetic biology is a research field that combines the investigative nature of biology with the constructive nature of engineering.1 Because synthetic biology encompasses a wide range of disciplines and a variety of different approaches, it is difficult to precisely define. This is further complicated continued emergence of new technologies that push the boundaries of the field. There is, however, a consensus that synthetic biology holds enormous promise and could provide solutions to global challenges such as disease, malnutrition, pollution, and energy shortages.
1 Purnick, Priscilla E. M., and Ron Weiss. "The Second Wave of Synthetic Biology: From Modules to Systems." Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 10.6 (2009): 410-22. Web.