Bangalore: A team of undergraduate students from IIT Madras picked up two of the top awards at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
The IIT Madras team was judged to have made the “Best Foundational Advance” at this extremely competitive event held on 9 November, while also winning a special prize for the “Best Engineered Biological Device”, according to a National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) release.
The team from Slovenia was awarded the Grand Prize, as well as a prize for the “Best Health or Medicine Project”, while the Harvard team won the “Food and Energy” category. Freiburg and Caltech were runners up for the Grand Prize.
At the iGEM, undergraduate teams from around the world compete to build innovative genetic devices in living cells. Seventy-seven teams representing 22 countries participated in iGEM 2008, working to solve problems in areas such as environment, energy, health and foundational research.
The IIT Madras student team, led by Dr Guhan Jayaraman (IIT Madras) and Dr Mukund Thattai (NCBS Bangalore).
The team’s prize-winning project involved a new method to turn on genes in bacteria, using a combination of chemical inputs and heat.
In 2007, the NCBS team lead by Dr Thattai was the first from India to win a prize at iGEM.
“This year’s outstanding showing by IIT Madras builds on that achievement, sending a signal that India will be a force to reckon with at future iGEM competitions,” the release said.