Previous awarding winning iGEM teams have tackled problems improving the environmental, understanding the metabolics of synthetic biology, disease, genetics, and many others! Click to explore different years' accomplishments.
Our first iGEM team was lead by George McArthur, and consisted of Kevin hershey, Amy Schell, Ranjan Khan, and Emre Ruhi.
The team raised $50,000 towards the development of a novel microbial metabolism for the production of butanol biofuel from inexpensive feedstock materials such as cellulose, deriving energy from light.
iGEM 2008 was composed of Patrick Gildea, Eyad Lababidi, Dan Tarjan, George Washington and Brandon Freshcorn.
They developed a library of transcriptional terminators that are intentionally functionally inefficient. The goal of this project was to allow fine tuning of transcription attenuation, allowing quantitative control of transcript levels, necessary to balance flux through a synthetic metabolic pathway.
iGEM 2009 was composed of Joe Bozzay, Maria Fini, Brandon Freshcorn, Rohini Manaktala, Dan Tarjan and Thaddeus Webb.
Their work involved creating an "arsenic sponge," which would be able to treat arsenic-contaminated water, particularly in rural areas. This would be done via knockout of the arsenite efflux mechanism in E. coli and creation of an arsenic sequestration mechanism.
iGEM 2010 was composed of Rohini Manaktala, Yong Wu, Megan Barron, Arjun Athreya, Austin Chamberlin, Sara Brickman, Adam Bower, Brett Tolliver, Daniel Chique, Dasha Nesterova, Jane Carter, Joe Edwards, Karis Childs, Priscilla Agyemang, and Maria McClintock.
During this year of Virginia iGEM, a collaboration took place between the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, Bluefield State College and Virginia State University under the name Virginia United.
2010's project involved experiments in applying electricla engineering techniques to cellular signaling via quorum sensing. In particular, the work involved codesign of 3 different quorum sensing-based AND-gate designs.
iGEM 2011 was composed of Yong Wu, Jackie Niu, Josh Fass, Arjun Artheya, Yanzhi Yang.
Their work involved creating a genetic circuit in yeast intended to accelerate healing in chronic or slow-healing wounds. The modified strain was intended to serve a dual role of exporting growth factors that would stimulate healing, as well as displacing potentially harmful strains of bacteria.
iGEM 2012 consisted of Jackie Grimm, Josh Fass, Shaun Moshasha, Alex Zorychta, Joseph Muldoon, John Hubczak Syed Hassan, and Omar Raza
Their project focused on whooping cough diagnosis, a disease which at the time caused upwards of 300,000 global deaths a year. Diagnostic procedures were complicated, requiring up to a week for positive confirmation, during which the disease can progress or spread. Based on modeling, the team determined that a faster, cheaper diagnosis could significantly reduce the impact of the disease; their proposed solution was an engineered bacteriophage that could be incorporated into a device as simple as a pregnancy test.
iGEM 2013 was composed of Jonathan Bethke, Christopher Langguth, Joshua Leehan, Sean Moshasha, Jessica Yoo, Elizabeth Kelly, Surbhi Gupta, Elyse McMillen, Richard Lee, Greg Brown, Matthew Tucker.
Their team focused on reducing the effects of off-target toxicity, a common problem with drug delivery, and the cause of many side-effects. This is particularly problematic in delivery of chemotherapy drugs, which can be as lethal as they are due to their cytotoxic properties affecting regular somatic cells in addition to tumor cells.
Many delivery vectors have been created that circumvent this problem, such as liposomes, which can be designed to target cells expressing a particular cell-surface receptor or feature. Liposomes however are expensive to manufacture and research.
This team explored the use of bacterial minicells as an alternative delivery vector. Minicells are achromosomal products of aberrant cell division; while these cells lack chromosomes, and therefore cannot replicate, mutate or express genes; however, they still express transfected plasmids. This, in combination with the ability to be manufactured through cell division, makes them a potentially ideal delivery vector.
iGEM 2014 was made up of Zi Ye, Haider Inam, Fangcheng Yuan, Alexander Schmitt, Michelle Yao, Joshua Leehan, Thomas Moss, Grace Mantus, Cara Broshkevitch.
Their project addressed the low rate of plastics recovery and recycling, and the increasing buildup of plastic waste in the environment. Particularly, the team addressed the problem of microplastics, microscopig plastic particulates that result from the UV degradation of plastic, making up a majority of the plastic mass in oceans.
The bacteria were engineered to both form a biofilm, in order to create form a large surface area to trap plastics, as well as to secrete maganese peroxidase into the surrounding water, which is capable of breaking down nylon microplastics.
iGEM 2015 was made up of Supraja Chittari, Dominic Ritchey, Jingyuan Zhang, Liam Wolf, Rena Yuan, Issac Li, Sean Sequeira, Shiran Su and Connor Jahelka.
Their project targets the Type-2 Diabetes epidemic, leveraging the different effects simple and complex sugars have on blood glucose levels; complex sugars have a lessser impact on blood sugar fluctuations and their hydrolysis happens slowly. iGEM 2015's solution is, more specifically, a strain of bacteria intended to exist alongside natural human gut flora, which bind simple sugars into more complex sugars via hydration reactions, slowing down hyperglycemic spikes by increasing the time the body takes to process ingested sugar.
iGEM 2016 was composed of Sarah Shan, Raquel Moya, Daniel Katz, Kelli Green, Austin Rivera, Anders Nelson, Nivedha Kannapadi, Madeleine Stone, Mark Bernard, Christopher Li.
Their project tackled the problem of biocontainment; in the field of synthetic biology, restricted the spread of genetic material, both in the laboratory and in potential deployed genetic devices is an ongoing problem. The potential unknown interactions with wild-type genes or other genetically engineered organisms are too numerous to predict, and so preventing the release of genetic material is imperative.
iGEM 2016 approached this problem by creating a novel, completely synthetic metabolite (particularly, an artificial tRNA essential to protein construction), and a strain of bacteria that was dependent on this synthetic metabolite to survive, unable to process the wild-type analogue.
iGEM 2017 was made up of Vikram Sheshadri, David Johanson, Christia Aspili, Lauren Harkins, Eric Wang, Steven Scherping, Ilya Andreev, and Caity Embly.
There project involved the transformation of nitrification genes into a denitrifying bacteria. This would remove the intermediate step between the conversion of NH3 into NO2- (nitrification) and the conversion of NO2- into N2 gas (denitrification). This project is intened to resolve the potential dangers of aqueous NO2-, which in both water eutrophication and is dangerous when present in the water supply. Their deliverable was tested against modern bacterial co-cultures that are used in modern wastewater treatment plants.
iGEM 2018 consisted of Ryan Taylor, Kevin Park, Angela Yi, Ngoze Akingbesote, William Huang, Grace Wu, Paul Imbrogulio, Vignesh Valaboju, Dylan Culfogienis, Nir Diskin, Joseph Outten, and Nick Marotta.
Their project involved the optimization of biomanufacturing processes (such as those used for production of biologics, like Insulin) by providing an alternative method for genetic activation, leveraging quorum sensing.
Traditionally, colonies of engineered bacteria are allowed to grow in bioreactors until reaching an optimal colony size, at which point they are administered some kind of artificial activating agent, such as IPTG, which their genetic circuits have been designed to activate in the presence of. However, IPTG manufacturing is expensive, and must be administered externally, either by lab personnel or an automated system, leaving room for improvement. Quorus is an improved quorum sensing circuit that overcomes some of the fundamental activation problems with quroum sensing, providing a potential viable alternative to IPTG for automatic, density-dependent, self-activating genetic circuits. Instead of having to apply an external activant, strains using Quorus for activation can be tuned to activate once the colony is of ideal density and size.
iGEM 2019 was composed of Kobe Rogers, Jermaine Austin, Benjamin Ascoli, Evan Biedermann, Alec Brewer, Jainam Modh, Katie Zhang, Shaalini Desai, Aarati Pokharel, Simonne Guenette, and Hannah Towler.
Their project, Transfoam, involved the degradation of Polystyrene, a common waste material which is difficult to recycle cost-effectively due its high-volume-to-weight ratio and chemistry. Transfoam not only solves the problem of degrading polystyrene into its more manageable monomers, styrene, but also addresses a second problem. PHB, or poly-hydroxybutarate, is a plastic that is both strong a biodegradable. It is currently used to manufacture surgical stitches and biodegradable flatware, however, the expense of its manufacturing compared to cheaper plastics such as nylons and HDPEs prevents it from being economically competitive with these mainstream, mass-manufactured materials. Transfoam's engineered bacterium includes the machinery necessary to convert degraded styrene into PHA, which can then either be safely released into the environment, where it is degraded, or can be reclaimed and reused as a raw material.