Question: Could you explain more about iGEM?

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  1. I’m so glad that you asked about iGEM. iGEM stands for International Genetically Engineered Machines. It is the world’s premier synthetic biology competition. It is initially designed by Harvard University and MIT and since 2003 it has been held in MIT every year. iGEM brings together many young and bright scientist from the top universities across the world. The goal of the competition is to genetically engineer bacteria to perform something useful. Each year we are given a toolkit of biological parts (like Bio version of lego bricks – in fact they are called biobricks). We can design and create new parts using the existing ones. There have been many incredible projects over the past 10 years. Students made bad smelling bacteria to smell like banana, strawberry and apple by re-designing it. One group suggested a blood group which is suitable for everyone so anyone could donate his/her blood. One student group made a bacteria which can find the leaks in pipes, go to leak and fix it. One group engineered E.coli to emit light so powerful that a 250ml flask of bacteria can light up a football field… Usually competition is for undergraduates or above but recently they started a section for high school students. In their first year only high schools from USA attended. I really want to supervise a high school and to be the first country to send their high school team to iGEM. I need enthusiastic and passionate students to start with…