The 2012 Macquarie University iGEM team.
The 2012 Macquarie University iGEM team.

Biology students off to Boston

A group of Macquarie University synthetic biology students are competing in the world finals of a prestigious science technology event being held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston later this week.

The students qualified for the world finals following a silver medal-winning demonstration of their synthetic biology research project at the Asian iGEM Jamboree held in Hong Kong last month.

The NSW Government has supported the team’s participation in the iGEM competition with an AU$8000 grant as part of the Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP), which fosters research excellence in the field of synthetic biology.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner says events like iGEM help advance this revolutionary science.

“Synthetic biology combines engineering and science to construct new biological functions, empowering cells to do things they couldn’t normally do,” he notes. “It is a complicated but very exciting field of science that has applications in everything from medicine to energy production.”

“Macquarie’s undergraduates were able to demonstrate an engineered bacteria cell could be switched on and off like a light switch. The demonstrated ability to manipulate these cells could ultimately impact genetic therapies such as cancer treatment.

“I congratulate them for their achievement and am pleased our Government was able to give them some help qualifying for the finals. I wish them well as they compete in Boston this week.”

Dr Louise Brown of Macquarie’s Department of Chemistry & Biomolecular Sciences said the team could not have achieved the outstanding result without the support of the Government.

“We were the only Australian team competing at the Asian event and one of only 17 teams out of 57 chosen to go on to the world championships,” she says.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the NSW Government, which enabled us to experience success on the international stage.”

“We are astonished to be in the world championships and the success of the Hong Kong trip got the students’ adrenalin flowing for this week at Massachusetts.”

Find out more about Macquarie University’s project for iGEM.