DTC students organise UK's first BIOMOD team

Oxford University's team has won Gold status at the annual Jamboree finale of the international BIOMOD Bionanotechnology Competition. The team was the first ever in the UK to take part and was organised by two DTC students, Robert Oppenheimer (SynBio CDT) and Paul Rutten (BioDTP).

Oxford fielded a highly interdisciplinary team of four undergraduates from Physics, Biochemistry and Medicine: Sam Garforth, Hannah Cornwall, Martin Veselý and Jordan Juritz. The team designed genetic switches called riboswitches that regulate gene translation through conformational switching of mRNA secondary structure. In particular, they rationally designed a cooperative switch giving a sharper on-off response to input signals. Such fine control over biological processes could have important applications in synthetic biology, medicine and industry. Full details of their project can be found on the team's wiki.

The team achieved Gold status for not only completing all of the competition's requirements but also showing that one of their devices functioned as designed and finishing in the top 50% of teams.

BIOMOD is a prestigious undergraduate competition with a style similar to iGEM. From July to September each year teams from around the world compete by designing and implementing their own research projects, before presenting to their peers at the international "Jamboree" conference at UCSF, California. Teams design and build structures and machines out of the basic molecules of life - DNA, RNA and proteins. BIOMOD is a student-driven competition, offering undergraduates a unique scientific experience from project design and experiment to academic presentations and outreach.

The team received extensive support from industry sponsors, SynBio.Oxford (the Oxford University Society of Synthetic Biology) and the University of Oxford, including the DTC. The full list of their sponsors can be found here.