What is iGEM?

iGEM (short for: International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) is the biggest student competition in the field of Synthetic Biology in the world, where 314 multidisciplinary teams from 44 countries participated last year. Teams are solving problems by creating, improving and applying genetically engineered systems. An important part of all iGEM projects is human practices, where students are trying to incorporate ethics, sustainability, social justice and education to their projects. They convey information about synthetic biology and their projects to the general public through fairs, social media, newspapers, radio, and television. At the annual ‘Giant Jamboree’ all teams meet in Boston to present their projects. You can check out the whole iGEM – Project here!

The Competition

Combining molecular biology techniques with engineering concepts, students work in interdisciplinary team to create novel biological systems. At the beginning of the competition season, each registered team is given a kit of 1000+ standard interchangeable parts called BioBricks from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

Working at their own schools, teams use these parts and new parts of their own design to build, test, and characterize genetically engineered systems and operate them in living cells in an effort to address real-world issues. Along with submitting their newly created BioBricks to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, teams are required to actively consider the safety implications of their work and document their projects on team wiki pages.

The Giant Jamboree

At the end of the competition season, teams converge at the Jamboree event to showcase their research. Teams present their work through posters and oral presentations, and compete for prizes and awards, such as the coveted BioBrick trophy.

Registry of BioBricks

The iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts is the world’s largest collection of open source DNA parts called BioBricks®. These parts all meet an established standard to ensure compatibility between parts, allowing them to be assembled together to build novel genetically engineered systems. The Registry contains the world’s largest collection of BioBricks, with over 20,000 specified genetic parts.

The Registry of Standard Biological Parts is built on a ‘Get, Give & Share’ philosophy. iGEM competition participants and participating academic labs can request parts from the Registry for use. They then give back data and new parts to the repository to share with the community.

© iGEM Munich 2019