Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Corpus student part of winning iGEM team

The iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition is a worldwide synthetic biology competition, the goal of which is to enthuse and educate young scientists in the field of synthetic biology, and to raise awareness of synthetic biology as a scientific discipline in the wider public. Having been selected to join the Oxford 2016 team in December 2015, my team mates and I brainstormed and planned a project for 8 months. Over the summer, we were provided with the laboratory space to attempt to bring our ideas to fruition. The project culminated in a conference in Boston at the end of October, at which we presented our project and a poster for judging. The Oxford team has won the gold medal twice previously, and we were keen to replicate this feat. The specific goal of our project was to engineer a novel treatment for Wilson’s disease. This rare genetic disorder is characterised by an inability of the body to properly metabolise copper, leading to deposits that can cause severe liver and neurological damage. Current treatments must be taken 4 times a day, have severe side effects, and are vastly overpriced. Our goal was to generate a probiotic bacteria capable of occupying the small intestine, containing a system we have designed to “mop-up” excess copper, avoiding the aforementioned disadvantages. We also hoped to raise awareness of rare diseases through this work. We have just returned from Boston, having successfully gained the gold medal! In addition to this, we were very proud to have been 1 of 5 nominees, out of 300+ teams, for 4 special awards: Best Therapeutics Project, Best Wiki, Best Presentation, and Best Eduction and Public Engagement.

Rosie Brady, 4th year Biochemistry undergraduate 

 

winning iGEM team being questioned by a judge

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