Nevada iGEM team receives silver at international competition

Team continues research to accelerate protein degradation this spring

Nevada iGEM team receives silver at international competition

Team continues research to accelerate protein degradation this spring

The Nevada iGEM Team received a silver medal at the international iGEM competition in Boston, Mass., this last fall. This is the sixth year that the University of Nevada, Reno has participated in the competition.

The iGEM competition promotes education and development of synthetic biology by having international and national teams develop research projects. The University iGEM team's research project is called the Bioorthoginal Auxin Induceable Trigger Switch, or The BAIT Switch for short. The research provides a new strategy for immediate protein degradation. According to the team, organic protein degradation is a slow process which can take anywhere from few hours to months to occur.

"iGEM is unique because it allows the students, to polish their presentation skills, build a website, conduct research and get experience in the lab," Veronica Zepeda, a lecturer in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department and iGEM team advisor, said.

Community outreach also plays an important part in the iGEM competition. The team presented in the Road to TEDx, a University held competition for a chance to present at the TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015.

"Participating in the Road to TEDx was a great opportunity to showcase iGEM," Matthew Hawn, a senior biochemistry major and iGEM team member, said. "It allowed the students to show the community and other students about the iGEM competition and about what our team does."

The team conducted their research in the 10,000 Hour lab in the Howard Medical Science Building. The name of this lab is derived from the concept that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in an area of study. The lab is used by STEM undergraduates as a multi-facetted area for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. The team is continuing their work in the lab throughout the spring semester.

The team was comprised of six students within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. Students include dual biochemistry and neuroscience major Khurram Fahim, dual biochemistry and molecular biology and microbiology and immunology major Janice Bautista and biochemistry majors Matthew Hawn, Josh Beard, Tori Speicher and Zoe Meraz. The competition allowed the students to not only develop a research project but to network with other universities and researchers at the competition. 

"The research does not stop at iGEM," Zepeda said. "The team is working to get to the point where they can publish their findings."

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