The 2014 iGEM Jamboree was the first to be held at the Hynes Convention Center. From all over the world, this Jamboree has drawn participants from over 245 universities. The Giant Jamboree this year was incredibly organized and well run. It's amazing to think about where iGEM was when it began and where the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation has taken it. I was able to participate in volunteering for this event and had a great deal of fun.
The Joshi Lab hosted this year's Harvard iGEM team, which consisted of undergraduates Nicholas Larus-Stone, Michelle Long, Tiana Raphel, and Jonah Saltzman. These students developed the concept and did all the work themselves. Graduate mentors were Jon Russell (Harvard MCB), Bom Praveschotinunt (Harvard SEAS), José Cruz (Harvard CCB), and Jonathan Grinham (Harvard GSD). As a postdoc, I only played a very minor role, providing technical feedback.
The concept of their project was to encode information into the biofilm extracellular matrix using our BIND system. By storing information in super-stable amyloid materials, the fidelity of the information can be stored for years or even decades in harsh conditions. The team is thinking of using curli-based information storage for long-term robust biosensors and biocryptography.
Can we engineer yeast commonly used for beer fermentation to synthetically produce resveratrol? Resveratrol is a molecule produced by plants, is found in red wine, and is thought to contribute to a number of health benefits, including cardiovascular health, neuroprotective protection, and lifespan extension through interaction with sirtuins (see Hubbard et al. 2013).
The concept for this iGEM project originated from my interests in resveratrol as a longevity-promoting small molecule and my affinity for beer. After I presented the concept as a graduate student mentor, with an enthusiastic cadre of undergrads and a wonderfully supportive PI, we were off to the races! The undergraduate team consisted of Sarah Duke, Arielle Layman, David Ouyang, Thomas Segall-Shapiro, Selim Sheikh, and Taylor Stevenson. The faculty advisors were Beth Beason, George Bennett, Kenneth Cox, Oleg Igoshin, Joff Silberg, Junghae Suh. As a graduate student, I mentored the team alongside Justin Judd.
The project ended up garnering much media attention, becoming the most-cited Rice University research for 2008.