International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) (2015-2016)

Rapid advances in genetic engineering, genome science, bioinformatics and nanotechnology are having profound impacts on biotechnology and related engineering fields. At the same time, these technical leaps are challenging our concepts of intellectual property, what is natural versus synthetic and how life is defined. The dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of these fields provides an ideal outlet for enthusiasm and creativity of diverse students at all levels.

To prepare students to be future leaders in these emerging fields, the Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team was founded. iGEM works to advance the state of synthetic biology both in and out of the lab.

Team members worked with an advanced genome editing system (CRISPR-cas9) for genetic engineering. They used CRISPR-based tools for targeting bacterial pathogens, and interfaced with faculty engaged in public policy and ethics to explore synthetic biology's legal, ethical and economic impact. The results of the project were submitted to the iGEM competition, where the team was awarded a silver medal. 

Team members Matthew Farnitano and Matthew Faw also designed and taught an undergraduate Duke House Course, Creating Life: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology, in Spring 2015.


Spring 2015

Team Outcomes

iGEM Duke: Guts. Glory. gRNA. (team website)

A Bioprocess Design for Microbial Production of Taxol (poster by S. Banskota, T.J. Ciesla, E. Moreb)

2016 iGEM Team Genetically Engineered Machine (overview handout)

Duke House Course 59.08, Creating Life: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology (Matthew Farnitano and Matthew Faw)

One Gene or Many? Different Genetic Mechanisms Drive Convergent Evolution in Monkey Flowers (Matthew Farnitano, honors thesis for graduation with distinction in Biology)

This Team in the News

Duke Awards Distinguished Professorships, Inducts New Bass Society Members

See related team, Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team (2016-2017) .

Team Leaders

  • Nicolas Buchler, Arts & Sciences-Biology
  • Charles Gersbach, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering

/undergraduate Team Members

  • David Brenes, Biomedical Engineering (BSE), Electrical & Cmputr Egr (BSE2)
  • Minjia Chang, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Kimberline Chew, Biology (BS)
  • Anthony Ciesla, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Adarsh Ettyreddy, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Matthew Farnitano, Biology (BS)
  • Matthew Faw, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Jeremy Gonzales, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Alvin Han, Biology (BS)
  • Benjamin Hoover, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Sarah Jacobs, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Joseph Kreitz, Biology (BS)
  • Parth Patel, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Amy Zhao, Biomedical Engineering (BSE), Computer Science (AB2)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • BioBricks (standardized, modular DNA segments)