Students in the SWA BioBuilder Club have narrowed their sights on a project related to Medicine, focusing on designing, building and testing a biological system using a cellular chassis that can detect and treat atherosclerosis, which is the number one cause of death in the world. Over the Holiday Vacation, Jocelyn Hoi Yin Dung (Grade 11 student) met with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Biological Engineering Professor Dr. Natalie Kuldell to discuss the project and, as a result of this meeting, the SWA BioBuilders are very excited to have been awarded an official team mentor, Dr. David Lips of Harvard Medical School and previous mentor to the Harvard iGEM team, to begin advising the group over the course of their project. It is a great asset to the team to have such an experienced mentor and they plan to learn as much as they can from their interactions with him.
The group will be meeting with Dr. Lips virtually to plan out the key first steps in the project, which will involve identifying biomarkers that can be used as input to biological devices that can be used to locate plaques that have ruptured in arteries. In addition, New England BioLabs will be subsidising the cost of DNA synthesis and other key reagents. Laboratory work is scheduled to start later this month at PUSPIPTEK and the team plans to publish results of their research in the High School Synthetic Biology Journal BioTreks. SWA and another school in China are the only two schools outside of North America to have been awarded spots in the BioBuilder Programme. Please take a moment to visit the SWA BioBuilders website to see what they have been up to in the lab. The team has high hopes of participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) next academic year and the awarding of an experienced mentor and subsidised reagents will help them tremendously.