RPI iGEM Team
“We’re on the cusp of an exciting new event in the history of Rensselaer, when our first ever iGEM student team begins to conduct experiments in our summer synthetic biology research project for the iGEM competition.” - Douglas Meadow, Team Founder
What is iGEM?
The iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, which is the world’s premier synthetic biology event, began at MIT in 2003 and has grown to 300 teams from 30 countries, comprising around 5,000 participants. The iGEM competition encourages students to work together to solve real-world challenges by building genetically engineered biological systems with standard, interchangeable parts. Student teams design, build, and test their projects over the summer and gather to present their work and compete at the annual Jamboree conference, which will be held in Boston from November 9-13, 2017.
The Research Project
Our team members come from many different areas of science and engineering and have diverse skill sets in cellular biology, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, and metabolic/enzyme engineering. We look forward to carrying out an innovative synthetic biology research project this summer with our faculty mentors Dr. Mattheos Koffas and Dr. Richard Gross.
Our project will feature several fields of inquiry including genetics, synthesis and identification of molecules, assessment of biological properties through cell based assays, and metabolic pathway engineering. Our key goal is to make and use the tools of synthetic biology to produce high-purity, novel sophorolipids (glycolipids) with important therapeutic properties. Our work will involve genetic modification of the yeast strain Starmarella bombicola to produce precise sophorolipid compounds, which we expect to have useful pharmaceutical properties. Previous studies have knocked out the MFE2 gene to block a beta oxidation pathway. This step allows us to directly feed pure fatty acids of desired structures to the yeast for their direct incorporation into the product sophorolipids. Building on this concept, we plan to design a library of genetic constructs to test and optimize the performance of engineered P450 enzymes.
Impact of Your Gift
We strongly believe that RPI belongs at the 2017 iGEM Giant Jamboree, and you can help send us there! Your support will fund our research that will allow us to compete. Gifts to our team will go toward Liquid Chromatography - Mass Spectrophotometry to evaluate our sophorolipid compounds, in addition to laboratory supplies, reagents, media, equipment usage costs, and other laboratory consumables. Additional funds will help provide travel accommodations and team uniforms for the competition.
Our Team Members
Douglas Meadow ’18, Biomedical Engineering
Krystyna Farrell ’18, Chemical Engineering
Megan Gupta ’19, Biology
Leah Henegar ’18, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Alexis Hill ’18, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Cameron Kee ’18, Biology
Stephanie Lee ’17, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Helen Merricks ’18, Biology
Maily Nguyen ’19, Biomedical Engineering + Mechanical Engineering
Armond Welch ’19, Biomedical Engineering + Biochemistry and Biophysics
Blossom Wong ’19, Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology