About UMaryland iGEM
The International Genetically Engineered Machine is a student-led synthetic biology competition with more than 280 participating collegiate teams worldwide. Each fall, teams from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas gather in Boston to share their research findings. iGEM is also much more than a competition. The iGEM Foundation is dedicated to education and competition, advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of open community and collaboration. The community has a long history of involving students and the public in the development of the new field of synthetic biology.
"If you ask five people to define synthetic biology, you will get six answers."
--Prof. Kristala Prather, MIT
"Synthetic biology aims to make the engineering of new function in biology faster, cost effective, scalable, predictable, transparent and safe. It focuses on improvement of standard genetic engineering technology; development of standards for genetic assembly and rapid characterization; creation of families of genetic 'parts' that behave reliably in designated hosts and have no undesigned interactions; and generation of safe, robust host cells."
--Prof. Adam Arkinm, UC Berkeley
"Synthetic biologists construct new biological entities—molecules, pathways, regulatory networks, organisms and ecosystems—by programming them, or reprogramming them, at the level of the DNA code. The new name 'synthetic biology' reflects an explosion in our ability to genetically engineer increasingly complex systems and the desire of scientists and engineers from fields outside molecular biology and genetics to participate in the fun, contributing to the technology and its applications."
--Prof. Frances Arnold, Caltech
Simply put, it is a rapidly emerging field that combines biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology, biophysics, computer engineering, and is in many ways related to genetic engineering. It can be used to solve a wide variety of economic, scientic, and societal problems.
Ranking 43rd in this year's Times Higher Education World University Rankings, The University of Maryland is the state's flagship and land-grant public institution with 37,500 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and a $1.9B annual operating budget, including $500M in external research funding.
The University of Maryland chapter of iGEM, UMaryland iGEM, was founded in 2014. It showed great promise by winning a gold medal at its inaugural international convention, a great feat for a rookie team. Riding on this momentum, UMaryland iGEM has since doubled in membership and has taken on multiple research projects: creating an antibiotic-free plasmid retention system, designing a PCR machine that costs less than $50 to build, and educating the community about synthetic biology.
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