A Team of Slovenian Students Will Again Take Part in the International iGEM Competition on Synthetic Biology in Boston

With a new scientific research, they will measure strength with the best teams of the world’s 300 universities at the international iGEM competition on synthetic biology in Boston.

The representatives of the Faculty of Chemistry say that this year, the carefully selected members of the Slovenian students team will again present their research project and match strength with the best teams of the world’s 300 universities at the international iGEM competition in Boston.

In the past, students of the University of Ljubljana successfully participated in this competition on research projects in synthetic biology. During the period of 2006–2012, they received three highest awards, the Grand Prix, one 2nd place and lots of first places in different categories. Thus, according to the efficiency criterion, they are in no way inferior to their peers from other world’s venerable universities. Slovenian students prepared projects, which became the basis for important and resonant discoveries in the field of synthetic biology.

From the end of May, the current team members have been intensively working on experiments in order to prepare for such an important competition. This year, the participating students are engaged in one of the most important problems of synthetic biology. They would like to increase the speed of reaction to signals coming from the environment: from several hours or days (which is the capacity of existing systems) to several minutes or seconds.

“For the proper functioning of an organism, it is important that it could respond to changes within a few minutes. Such changes may include, for example, increased concentrations of glucose in blood, because after a few hours it will be too late. To transmit fast signals, we use light, macromolecules and one more innovation, but let it remain a secret,” the team members say. The same as in previous years, their scientific supervisor is Prof. Dr. Roman Erala from the Faculty of Chemistry and his colleagues.

“This year we gathered a brilliant interdisciplinary team of motivated and well trained students from the Faculties of Medicine, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Informatics, who already have some experience in conducting research projects,” Roman Erala says and adds that such scientific practices are an important motivating factor in choosing academic specialization. He also notes, “In Slovenia, unfortunately, less attention is paid to the research work of students. Participating in such competitions makes it possible to at least partially fill this gap.”

Photo. The Slovenija iGEM 2016 team members: from top — Nik Franko (the Faculty of Biotechnology), Samo Roškar (the Faculty of Medicine), Rok Krese (the Faculty of Biotechnology), Miha Gradišek (the Faculty of Electrical Engineering), Kosta Cerovć (the Faculty of Medicine); in the middle — Arne Praznik (the Faculty of Biotechnology), Nina Jerala (the Faculty of Medicine), Tjaša Plaper (the Faculty of Biotechnology), Žiga Pušnik (the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics); from bottom — Lidija Magdevska (the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics), Katja Leben and Estera Merljak (the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology).

Source: delo.si