From November 9th to 13th, the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation held its 2017 student competition at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Over 300 teams from higher education institutions around the globe came to participate in the world’s leading collegiate competition in synthetic biology. Two teams from Sichuan University–the School of Life Sciences team and the West China School of Medicine team–were among this year’s competitors. Both teams won gold in their respective tracks.
SCU’s team from the School of Life Sciences was made up of 21 undergraduate students from various schools and departments at SCU, including the School of Physics and Wu Yuzhang Honors College. The team won a gold medal for their innovative submission on “Rhythmic Production of Melatonin in E. coli,” a research project aimed at the synthetic production of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone in the human body. With this project, the team of young researchers hoped to discover new ways of improving the quality of sleep for an increasing number of patients suffering from insomnia. In the course of their one-year preparations for the iGEM competition, students had carefully studied the field, thought over how to break new ground in the research, and designed a way to “construct a melatonin biosynthesis pathway in E.coli.”
SCU’s West China School of Medicine team also stood out for its exceptional submission. Made up of twelve undergraduate students from the West China School of Stomatology, Wu Yuzhang Honors College, and other schools, this team competed with a project entitled “Blocking the Urate Storm in the Blood,” for which it also won a gold medal. With the support of the West China School of Medicine and SCU’s State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, the team applied for funds, carried out its experiments, and successfully participated in the iGEM competition with a brilliant poster and an outstanding presentation.
The iGEM competition is one of three main programs run by iGEM. It all started as an independent study course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in January 2003. For more information, please visit igem.org.