Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team (2018-2019)

Rapid advances in synthetic and systems biology, metabolic and enzyme engineering and nanotechnology are having profound impacts on biotechnology and related engineering fields. The Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team was founded to stimulate and nurture students’ interest in science and engineering and prepare them to be future leaders in these emerging fields. iGEM is dedicated to advancing the state of synthetic biology both in and out of the lab.

All iGEM projects have several key components: implementing the design-build-test cycle for synthetic biology in the lab, evaluating the ethical and societal impacts of the project, engaging in education and dissemination through an iGEM website, conducting local high school student outreach and participating in the annual International iGEM competition in Boston. 

Key accomplishments of the students and mentors involved in the 2018-2019 Duke iGEM team included developing strains for the expression of paclitaxel biosynthesis enzymes; securing donations from Genesee Scientific to support research; supporting the Gaston Day School’s iGEM team; coordinating and leading a seminar and workshop at Duke attended by undergraduate students interested in synthetic biology, with a focus on the ethics of genetic engineering; and volunteering with the Marbles Kids Museum to teach basic concepts of DNA.

In addition to the technical aspects, the project incorporated a substantial policy component that encourages team members to think creatively about the societal landscape of synthetic biology and develop innovative tools to improve access and education. Toward this aim, the team interfaced with professors in public policy and ethics to explore synthetic biology’s legal, ethical and economic impact.


Spring 2018 – Fall 2018  

Team Outcomes

Team website

This Team in the News

Duke Senior Gabriella Deich Named Rhodes Scholar

See related teams, Synthetic Biology and Genetic Engineering for Human Health and Society: Duke iGEM (2020-2021) and Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team (2017-2018).

Team picture

Team Leaders

  • Charles Gersbach, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering
  • Michael Lynch, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering

/graduate Team Members

  • John Decker, Biomedical Engineering-PHD
  • Eirik Moreb, Biomedical Engineering-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Joseph Choo-Choy, Program II (BS)
  • Gabriella Deich, Program II (BS)
  • Daniel Getman, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Adam Yaseen, Biophysics (BS)
  • Keng Zhang, Biomedical Engineering (BSE), Economics (BS2)
  • Trudy Zou, Biology (BS)
  • Maria ter Weele, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Museum of Life and Science
  • East Chapel Hill High School
  • Marbles Kids Museum