Synthetic Biology at MIT encompasses research on the design and construction of standard biological parts, devices and integrated biological systems. The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition provides a new opportunity to engage students from different backgrounds, such as engineering and physics, in thinking about biological systems. In its first year, the 2004 Competition, Genetically Encoded Finite State Machines, has attracted teams of up to 12 students and an instructor from 5 universities.
During the competition, students
- help to develop and make use of mathematical methods for characterizing the dynamic behavior of biological systems,
- construct models of protein networks that can be used to design (i.e. predict) the behavior of biological systems,
- discover, develop and use rule-based construction of integrated biological systems,
- help to the develop a new curricula in biological systems design and analysis,&
- make use of, and contribute to, an open and free repository of standard biological parts (MIT's Registry of Standard Biological Parts).