International Genetically Engineered Machine – iGEMCopyright: Alina Egger
iGEm is an international competition for students in the field of synthetic biology. As part of the competition, student teams develop ideas for projects that contribute to solving local or global problems with the help of synthetic biology. Possible areas of application include the environment, medicine, nutrition, new technologies, energy, and industry.
Each team selects one of the options outlined above for their project and then competes against other teams in this field. Teams work on their project in a laboratory made available to them over a period of six to ten months. They also have to secure funding for their project, contact experts and the general public, and make sure they meet the competition criteria.
In the end, all the projects will be presented at a conference, the Giant Jamboree in Boston, US, where they will be assessed by a jury of scientists. The assessment criteria include the team’s presentation, the project poster, and, if applicable, the results of a hardware project. In addition, teams can win special prizes such as best hardware project, best presentation, or best social commitment.
In 2019, the team entered the competition with their “Plastractor” project, which uses a microbe to remove microplastics from liquids. The team won gold and was also nominated for "Best Environment Project".
In 2018, the iGEM Aachen team received a nomination for "Best Hardware" and a gold medal for their MELASENSE project. The aim of this project was to develop a biosensor for the sleep hormone melatonin.
The project is supported by the Hans Hermann Voss Foundation.