The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation hosts an annual competition for students to gain experience in the field of synthetic biology. Student teams spend 12 weeks during the summer building genetically engineered systems that aim to have an impact on their communities and the world. Their efforts continue into the fall semester until the Giant Jamboree in Boston, a meeting of more than 3,000 attendees and 299 teams from all over the world where students present their projects and celebrate months of hard work.
Pitt's iGEM team did a fantastic job over the summer and won a gold medal for their research and human practices activities! First time for Pitt!
Two of the five undergraduate students are in Chemistry (Claire Chu and Maddie Perdoncin) and Prof. Alex Deiters was a faculty advisor for this year's team. The Pitt team’s project – “Hot Metal Switch” – focused on developing a cell-free sensor that uses bacterial cell extract and a DNA genetic circuit to detect high levels of lead in water. Forty-seven teams competed in the environmental category, and the Pitt team was one of six to be nominated for the Best Environmental Project because of their project’s potential application to provide an inexpensive way to test lead toxicity of drinking water in people’s homes.