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ERIC Number: EJ783540
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec-21
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
With "Biobricks," Students Snap Together a New Science
Trivedi, Bijal
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n17 pA24 Dec 2007
The underlying goal of the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, known as iGEM, is to figure out whether biological organisms and devices can be built from a collection of standard, off-the-shelf parts, just as someone might build a kit plane or car. For the undergraduates, it's an opportunity to construct whatever creature they can imagine--living organisms that crank out biofuel, detect and remove pollutants, or even gauge the purity of olive oil. More importantly, the students are helping build the foundations of a nascent field, synthetic biology. Scientists obtain their bits and pieces of DNA from labs scattered around the world, and assemble the molecules using whatever enzymes are convenient. It can take months to cut and paste DNA together, and when it is assembled, it comes with no guarantee that it will actually function inside a living cell. To solve those problems, iGEM's founders are, via the efforts of hundreds of competitors, developing a library of DNA snippets, each with a specific function, that have been engineered to snap together with other library parts like genetic Legos. These "biobricks" are created according to strict guidelines so that each one is compatible with others in the collection, which is officially called the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. The registry contains about 2,000 biobricks. With the biobricks, the competition's founders want to eliminate much of the drudgery and unpredictability of genetic engineering and "give students the freedom to do what they can imagine."
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A