Archives for 2005

Command performances: Controlling organisms withbiological circuits, opens up a world of possibilities and dangers

Leaders in the field convened the intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machine, or iGEM, competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge last month…

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San Diego Union Tribune – United States, December 14, 2005

Students race bacteria in MIT competition

When thinking of a relay race, the first thing that comes to mind is a swim meet or a track and field event. But for the students of the 2005 iGEM project, what comes to mind is E. coli….”

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Penn State Digital Collegian – University Park, PA, USA, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005

Davidson Students Are Standouts at MIT Synthetic Biology Competition

Six Davidson students claimed standout status this fall as the only liberal arts undergraduates to present their work at the Intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)….”

Read More – Washington, D.C., USA, DAVIDSON, N.C., November 29, 2005

Foundations for engineering biology

Foundational technologies that make routine the engineering of biology are needed. Vibrant, open research communities and strategic leadership are necessary to ensure that the development and application of biological technologies remains overwhelmingly constructive. Please complete one of the following projects in the next hour…

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Nature – Reviews, Vol 438| November 25, 2005

Developing Future Leaders (Harel Williams, Domeview presentation)

“The MIT Leadership Center features short presentations from 4 students whose work exemplifies leadership on a global scale. Afterwards, Flowers discusses the need to cultivate students who are both technologically literate and philosophically grounded.”

MITWorld, volume 5 | number 11 | November 23, 2005

iGEM 2005: Synthetic Biology’s Future

Before plunging too deeply into iGEM 2005 – the intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machine competition, held at MIT last weekend, consider a few of the awards: Best Use of Transmogrified Smiley Faces (Caltech), Best Confession (U Texas), Most Modest Goal (MIT), Best Uniform (University of Cambridge, U.K.) My favorite was Best “Hail Mary” Cloning (Oklahoma).”

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Bio-ITWorld, Tuesday November 8, 2005

Teams gather for genetic engineering competition

Deborah Halber, News Office Correspondent
November 3, 2005

More than 150 students and instructors from 13 universities across North America and Europe will convene at MIT this weekend to unveil their biological designs at the 2005 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.

The teams worked all summer to design and build engineered biological systems using standard interchangeable biological parts called BioBricks. BioBricks, originated at MIT, are made of biological materials that work as molecules inside living organisms.

The competition is part of the new field of synthetic biology, which involves taking apart the stuff of life and refining it so it can be reused easily in potentially useful ways. Drew Endy, assistant professor of biological engineering, said that the successful development of foundational technologies such as BioBricks will make it much easier to engineer biological systems.

MIT senior research scientist Tom Knight, originator of the BioBricks system, likened BioBricks to standardized screw threads — a fundamental advance, now taken for granted, in mechanical systems engineering.

“The goal of iGEM is to work with students to learn how to develop biology as a technology that can be used to engineer living systems that do useful things like process information and chemicals, construct materials and produce energy,” said MIT principal research engineer Randy Rettberg, director of the MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts and lead organizer of the 2005 iGEM competition.

By drawing on biological knowledge, engineering design and production principles, researchers can construct synthetic biological systems to achieve novel applications with unprecedented power and efficiency. Designs at last year’s iGEM competition ranged from yeast programmed to detect caffeine levels to a bacterial photographic film that captures extremely high-resolution images.

The research, besides leading to new technologies in health, energy, the environment and new materials, could lead to a greater fundamental understanding of how life works and how to use its building blocks –DNA, proteins and cells– more effectively.

The schools participating in iGEM are MIT, Berkeley, Caltech, University of Cambridge (U.K.), Davidson College, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Harvard, University of Oklahoma, Penn State, Princeton, University of Toronto, University of California at San Francisco and University of Texas at Austin. The competition was launched at MIT last year with five schools and was based on an earlier MIT course. This year’s competition involves schools from overseas for the first time.

The teams were challenged to design and test a simple biological system made of BioBricks and operate it in living bacterial cells. The teams will present their results at a jamboree on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Stata Center, Room 32-123. Each team is allotted half an hour for its presentation. The awards ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.

The event, which also includes a discussion of the social implications of this new technology, is sponsored by Microsoft/MIT iCampus.


The Passion to Action Summit: The MIT Leadership Center Launch, Cambridge MA, October 6, 2005. “Domeview presentation (video webstream under ‘SESSION 2: DEVELOPING FUTURE LEADERS’),” Harel Williams. MIT Leadership Center Events site

Magnanti offers Congress views on education

The United States needs to find new ways to excite today’s schoolchildren about the possibilities that math, science and engineering can hold for them, the dean of MIT’s School of Engineering recently testified during a congressional hearing on “Challenges to American Competitiveness in Math and Science.”

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MIT News Office, Monday July 25, 2005

Learning Space Design in Action

Introductory science courses need to merge lectures, recitations, and hands-on laboratory experience into a technologically and collaboratively rich experience for incoming freshmen. This mix of technology, pedagogy, and classroom design results in better learning. Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) at MIT ( is the latest iteration of this effective strategy.”

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EDUCAUSE r e v i e w July/August 2005