Texas Tech Team Wins Silver in First International Competition

Eight undergraduates competed at the iGEM Foundation’s Giant Jamboree.

The Texas Tech University Genetically Engineered Machine team won silver this weekend in its first international competition during the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation’s annual gathering.

The conference, known as the Giant Jamboree, was held Thursday through Monday (Oct. 27-31) in Boston. It included workshops, presentations from more than 275 international teams in attendance and an awards ceremony to recognize the best presentations.

The competition focuses on synthetic biology, which is the use of engineering principles to design biological components. Texas Tech’s team presented a method to improve the healing of chronic wounds by using a protein-infused collagen scaffold.

The team consists of:

  • Brandon Palomo, student team leader and founder
  • Alejandra Duran
  • Aric Denton
  • Cody Fell
  • Diane Ha
  • Ellen Wilson
  • Gregory Knox
  • Holden R. Fried
  • Kennady Abbott
  • Marc Ordoñez
  • Marilyn Mathew
  • Marissa Martinez
  • Timothy Salinas
  • Zach Nguyen

The team is led by Dr. Annette Sobel, an associate professor in the Department of Medical Education at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) and an adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lou Densmore, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the Texas Tech University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Julie Isom, in the Center for the Integration of Science Education & Research, was an advocate for student involvement.

Other faculty members involved with the team are Dr. Roger B. Sutton, a professor in the TTUHSC Department of Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics; Dr. Ron Banister, an assistant professor in the TTUHSC Department of Anesthesiology; Vickie Sutton, a Paul Whitfield Horn professor and associate dean for research and faculty development in the School of LawRuth Serra-Moreno, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences; and Wei Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

“All the team members have remarked about how incredibly valuable this experience has been to them and how well their undergraduate education at Texas Tech has prepared them to win this prestigious award at this international competition,” Sobel said. “We especially thank our corporate sponsors, National Instruments, Mr. DNA, IDT, GenScript and Research and Training Institute.”

About iGEM

For more than 10 years, iGEM has encouraged students to work in teams and solve real-world challenges by building genetically engineered biological systems with standard, interchangeable parts. Participation in the iGEM competition empowers teams to manage their own products, advocate for their research and secure funding. Teams also are challenged to actively consider and address the safety, security and environmental implications of their work.


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