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Copenhagen team preparing for global biology clash at iGEM

Last year, a team from Copenhagen took home a gold medal. This year again, a group of students are to pit themselves against the world's universities in one of the coolest fields of science - synthetic biology

Tingling with DNA sequence parts, previous competing teams have made everything from rainbow-pigmented bacteria to an arsenic biosensor.

And never forget that synthetic biology is what put the Jurassic in Jurassic Park. Or you know, the dinosaurs.

At the iGEM competition each team presents a project made using Standard Parts. These are isolated and functional units of DNA, encoded for a specific biological function, either taken from existing biological material or synthesized. UNIK Copenhagen, the University of Copenhagen team, are busy building their project as we speak.

Last year, a team from the University of Copenhagen took the gold medal home from the competition in France.

A non-toxic, cheap and easy-to-use biosensor

We interrupted the hard work to find out what this year’s team, consisting of Cecilie Cetti Hansen, Henrik Munk Frisenvang, Morten Hessellund Raadam and Owik Herold-Majumdar from the Center for Synthetic Biology, are making before the competition finals 30 October to 3 November in Boston, USA.

“In a nutshell: we are building new biosensors. Our project Hoping to win, of course
Competition is stiff. Other than the University of Copenhagen entry, projects this year include
a novel bioplastic, as a part of a larger project aiming to build a biosynthetic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for space exploration and remote environmental monitoring. Another team is aiming to synthesize spider silk.

Are there any particular rival teams you dread facing?
“The diversity of projects in iGEM is great and the competition is hard! However, our hardest competitor is probably the time – especially because our group only has four pairs of hands. But we are working as hard as we can to get all the work done in time,” the team tells us.

What will it mean for you to win this year?
“It is always wonderful to be rewarded for your work – especially when you have put a lot of time and effort into it. And it would be great to prove that our idea works!”

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