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iGEM 2015 weekend competition begins with PLOS announcement

By Grant Vousden-Dishington,
PLOS Synbio Community Blogger

The 2015 iGEM Giant Jamboree began with an opening ceremony on September 25th, during which PLOS announced its new joint-venture with the iGEM organization.

“We are very excited to work with IGEM,” said PLOS ONE Senior Editor Michelle Dohm, the journal’s editorial liaison with its 18 month-old PLOS Synbio Community.

“We hope that this collaboration is the first step, one of many, in continuing to lower the barriers to the rapid sharing and review of scientific findings.”

After highlighting PLOS Synbio blog coverage of new synthetic biology research, and the PLOS Synthetic Biology Research Collection containing 80+ synthetic biology articles published by PLOS journals, Dohm urged the iGEM audience to sign up for PLOS Synbio Community Email Updates in order to hear about details of the publishing collaboration between the two organizations as they are worked out in coming months.

A Weekend of Competition, Mentorship and Collaboration

2015 marks the 11th year since iGEM competition’s inception, having grown into an event inviting more than 260 international collegiate teams. With aims spanning from basic synthetic biology tool-building to agricultural, medical, computational, and even legal applications, the projects presented in both lectures and posters at the 2015 iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston are as diverse as the teams’ origins. This iteration of the competition marks another addition to the event: the participation of high-school teams in the jamboree. As such, there’s a much greater emphasis than in years prior on mentorship and netoworking with iGEM alumni, in the hopes of inspiring future synthetic biologists to continue innovating.

The team projects are classified into certain tracks. The classic tracks of the competition include Energy, Environment, Food & Nutrition, Foundational Advance, Health and Medicine, Information Processing, Manufacturing, and New Application, each track corresponding roughly to the aims of a given project.

Seven new tracks are being included in this year’s Giant Jamboree: Art & Design, Community Labs, Hardware, High School, Measurement, Policy and Practice, and Software. The new tracks comprise both new directions participants are taking their synthetic biology project, such as for artistic goals instead of industrial ones, and the expansion of the community to include high school students and groups that would traditionally not be biologists, such as computer scientists and engineers.

Teams will compete against both other teams in their track and the iGEM Giant Jamboree as a whole.

Following three days of competitive presentations to demonstrate the merits of each project, the jamboree will end on Monday with two final presentation sessions by the teams that score top marks and an award ceremony to recognize the efforts of each of the nearly 300 teams.

PLOS Synbio will be covering as much of the event as possible on this blog and on twitter, so be sure to follow the @PLOSSynbio twitter feed as well as the official event hashtag, #iGEM2015.

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