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DTU Biobuilders - a new student-run project

Monday 07 Sep 15

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Christopher Workman
Associate Professor
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 27 00

Blue Dot projects

DTU’s Blue Dot projects are student-driven undertakings that cross boundaries between study programmes, semesters and departments. Blue Dot projects are to produce sustainable solutions, and they make high demands on the participants because they run alongside the ordinary teaching schedule.

It must be possible to use the results from the projects in practice and present them at an engineering competition or similar, for example. The projects are run in close contact with the business community or other relevant stakeholders—both internal and external.

Learn more about Blue Dot Projects and other student Projects at DTU.

iGEM competitions

iGEM competitions are held every year in a range of categories, and this year more than 250 universities from Europe, North and South America and Asia—including some of the world leaders—will be taking part.

DTU is working with the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Copenhagen on the DTU Biobuilders project, and has, for instance, hosted a symposium on this year’s project

DTU Biobuilders—DTU’s most recent Blue Dot project—is about more than biotechnology. Students from other study programmes are welcome to get involved.

A new Blue Dot project has seen the light of day: DTU Biobuilders. The focus here is on synthetic biology—analysing life’s tiniest building blocks and the opportunities gene manipulation opens up for solving the challenges of tomorrow in areas such as energy, the environment, foods and medicine.

DTU Biobuilders has actually existed since 2009, but was only recently elevated to the status of Blue Dot project. DTU Biobuilders starts every year in spring and culminates in the autumn with participation in the global iGEM competition, held in Boston, where 280 teams of students from leading universities all over the world compete in 13 categories in the field of synthetic biology.

Christopher Workman, Associate Professor at DTU Systems Biology, is head of the programme, which has resulted in gold medals from the iGEM competition every year since 2009, when DTU entered a team for the first time.

“We’re delighted that DTU Biobuilders is now a Blue Dot project. These projects are highly advanced, so the students can actually use the certificates they receive for participating in the context of their future education or career,” he says.

Photo: Private 

Multi-disciplinary
The ongoing project that will be taking part in the iGEM competition in October is entitled ‘Developing methods for designing new drug types by mutations in known syntheses’. The objective of the project is to develop a standardized method for the rational design and synthesis of new biological active substances. This has the potential to revolutionize production of—for example—pigments, antimicrobial agents and immunosuppressants.

As Christopher Workman, explains, DTU Biobuilders is not just about biotech; it involves a variety of other disciplines as well. That is why he is keen for students from other study programmes to get involved.

“The solutions we are working with in our projects encompass other areas such as nanotechnology and mathematical modelling, communication and project management. The iGEM competition judges take these parameters into consideration as well, so I hope that students from other study programmes will be interested in taking part,” he adds.

Student-driven
Students can earn up to 15 ECTS credits by taking part, depending on their level of involvement. Some students use the project as their BSc project, while others devote less time to it; individual students are free to decide for themselves.

To find out more about DTU Biobuilders, visit the project’s Facebook page or biobuilders.dtu.dk

Article in DTUavisen no. 7, September 2015.

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