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Unit of study_

MICR3988: Synthetic biology: the iGEM Competition (Adv)

Synthetic biology (SynBio) is a new and rapidly evolving science that exists at the intersection of biology and engineering. Due to recent advances in technologies such as in-vitro DNA synthesis, the possibilities of SynBio for construction of new organisms (GMOs) are now virtually limitless. These powerful technologies hold both promise and peril, and thus they need to be wielded cautiously and ethically. In this unit, students will learn to design and construct new microorganisms, assess the risks associated with these, and use these novel GMOs to solve real-world problems. These activities will be conducted as part of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, and the students in MICR3988 will constitute the University of Sydney's team in this competition. MICR3988 is primarily a hands-on research project, which will be conducted in an academic research lab. The students will design, build, and test a biological system of their own design using interchangeable DNA parts in microbial host cells. The work is interdisciplinary, involving microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, mathematical modelling, web design, science communication, science outreach, and industry engagement. The major output is a webpage which will be hosted in perpetuity by the iGEM Foundation.

Code MICR3988
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
72 credit points of units of study and a WAM greater than 65

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Effectively work in a team to achieve common research goals.
  • LO2. Use the scientific literature to understand a topic area in depth.
  • LO3. Understand and discuss the concepts and methods of synthetic biology.
  • LO4. Design, carry out, and troubleshoot experiments in microbiology and molecular biology.
  • LO5. Communicate scientific ideas effectively via multiple avenues (talk, poster, webpage).
  • LO6. Take professional responsibility for the biosafety issues involved in work on GMOs.
  • LO7. Engage in meaningful dialogue concerning the ethical issues involved in work on GMOs.

Unit outlines

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