We design a research project every year that integrates genetic engineering and molecular biology techniques (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9, high throughput screening, microfluidic devices) with synthetic DNA constructs that will be assembled into genetically engineering machines. Our projects typically address challenges in human health and disease, global/public health, ecological sustainability or tool development of new modules in synthetic biology. In addition, we seek to explore the ethical, legal and social implications of synthetic biology and engage with the local community to educate others on the power and use of biotechnologies.
Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. For example, Impossible Foods created meat-substitutes using heme from soy plants in 2011 and Christina Smolke's lab created opioids from yeast in 2015.
iGEM, which stands for International Genetically Engineered Machines, is an annual synthetic biology competition where thousands of researchers from around the world gather to share, network, and learn about cutting-edge research in biotechnology.