iGEM is an undergraduate synthetic biology competition where student teams are given a kit of biological parts from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The aim is to use this kit to design and construct new biological systems and operate them in living cells. The teams will first present the projects at the iGEM Regional European Qualifiers in the autumn, and if successful, at the iGEM Championship Jamboree held in early November at MIT.
iGEM has grown as a summer competition, with 5 teams in 2004, 13 teams in 2005 - the first year that the competition grew internationally, 32 teams in 2006, 54 teams in 2007, 84 teams in 2008, 112 teams in 2009, 130 teams in 2010 and 160 teams in 2011. Projects have ranged from banana and wintergreen smelling bacteria, an arsenic biosensor, artificial blood and buoyant bacteria, to the grand-prize winning E. chromi biopigments of the Cambridge iGEM2009 team. These are student driven projects, and the iGEM competition provides a opportunity to engage in original research as a team - with control over scientific direction and budget. It is fun and challenging.
The Wellcome Trust is offering a number of student stipends to support the participation of UK teams in the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM). The stipend will provide promising undergraduates with hands-on experience of synthetic biology during their 2012 summer vacation, with the aim of encouraging young scientists to consider a career in interdisciplinary research. The Cambridge iGEM teams have always been highly interdisciplinary, and we actively recruit students who may have little experience with biological systems, but who have complementary skills in engineering, computing or physical sciences.
Application forms are completed by team advisers with specific sections filled out by the individual students. Only one application is made per team and a maximum of 10 stipends can be requested. (The sponsor will guarantee that space and resources will be made available for the project).
Experiences of previous iGEM participants and articles on synthetic biology are available at:
Stipends are available for a maximum of ten students per team, and will provide support for up to ten weeks during the summer vacation. Each student will receive a stipend of £180 per week to cover living expenses.
Each student must be at a university within the UK or the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and should be an undergraduate registered for a basic science, engineering, mathematical, physical science, social and ethical science, dentistry, medical or veterinary degree. Each student should be in the middle year/s of a first degree of study (i.e. not in their first or last year) or a medical student between the end of the second year and the end of the penultimate year. More information about the Wellcome Trust scheme can be found at: www.wellcome.ac.uk/igem.
Cambridge iGEM advisors: Jim Ajioka (Department of Pathology), Gos Micklem (Department of Genetics & Department of Applied Mathematics), Jim Haseloff (Department of Plant Sciences)