March 17th was a day of celebration for this year’s BioBuilderClub teams! These young scientists had diligently worked since last fall on their synbio R&D, bringing science and engineering together with a passion for making a difference in the world.

BIG Ideas!

The teams addressed a range of vital topics that could positively impact the environment, health, medicine, food, and biomanufacturing. Just look at this list of incredible synbio projects these students are pursuing!

  • Green stop light: A Legionella detector
  • In pursuit of artificial blood: Plasmid expression system for synthesis of hemoglobin and haptoglobin complex in coli
  • DNA protectors: Testing the effectiveness of Dsup protection against UV radiation
  • Filteristic milk: Heavy metal filtration of breast milk
  • “Survivin” cancer
  • AliveSCENT: Evaluating the potential use of various essential oils as a mosquito repellent
  • Preventing presbyopia with a genetically engineered gut bacterium.
  • Application of phenolic compounds to inactivate SEA and reduce immune response
  • Using coli as a model for the synthetic alteration of native zooplankton to control the cyanotoxins produced by algal blooms in the State of Maine
  • Engineering a biological system capable of sensing and removing lead from the environment
  • Solving microplastic pollution through algae
  • The use of RNAi technology to inhibit growth of Microstegium vimineum
  • Oil Spill Cleanup Sponge
  • Reef-vive: A comprehensive approach towards increasing coral survivability
  • Remediation of microcystin toxin in Lake Erie
  • More widely applicable plastic degradation methods via bacterial engineering
  • Engineering endophytes to protect rice from disease
  • Engineering plants to remediate nitrous oxide
  • A radon detecting houseplant
  • Sustainable mussel tape
  • BC: A tree-free guarantee
  • Determining a more efficient way to produce biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) to minimize plastic waste pollution.
  • Synthesis of biodegradable chitosan polymers: A chito-plan for the future
  • Constitutive expression of amilCP in vitro in vivo within E. coli

Here’s a deeper dive into a few of these projects to give you a hint of how these teams approach their synbio studies.

Survivin’ cancer

The Taipei Green team worked on a new cancer diagnostic tool.

Taipei Team Green 2022
Survivin' Cancer Poster

In their own words:

Cancerous tumors are developed when the tumor suppressor protein p53 mutates and is no longer functional. Consequently, under p53’s absence of regulation, malignant cells are able to rapidly proliferate. As a result of the mutations, the protein survivin, an inhibitor of apoptosis, becomes highly expressed. Thus, the survivin promoter can be used as an indicator for cancerous tumors. We aim to create a diagnostic tool to detect early stages of cancer by placing a reporter gene, such as GFP, under the control of the survivin promoter. A positive diagnostic for a malignant tumor would hence activate the survivin promoter and turn on the indicator gene.

Modifying Algae to Combat Microplastic Pollution

The “NanoDragons,” a first year team from the JR Masterman School in Philadelphia, expanded on the project they started last year in BioBuilder’s Idea Accelerator.

NanoDragons, px
NanoDragon Posterr

A radon detecting houseplant

Students from the Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio designed a houseplant, Tradescantia (aka spiderwort), to change color when exposed to high concentrations of  household radon.

fluor flora team WRA
fluor fauna
posterr part 2

BIG Thanks!

A big ‘thank you’ to the wonderful bioengineering professionals who volunteer their time to BioBuilderClub teams. Your mentoring of student teams helps these young scientists grow in both knowledge and enthusiasm.

Thanks also goes to our sponsors, Arbor Biosciences and New England Biolabs. Your generous support of BioBuilderClub is making a long-term difference in students’ lives – past, present, and future.

Lastly, we are so thankful for the local teachers who encourage and support BioBuilderClub teams and students. This wouldn’t happen without you!

… and help get the bioengineering leaders of tomorrow, here today!

State and local public funding for student transportation to out-of-school academic programs is virtually nonexistent. As a result, more and more students are finding it difficult to get to the programs they seek. BioBuilder wants to provide timely transportation to and from local schools or public transportation stations so students aren’t forced to sacrifice furthering their education simply because of transportation issues.

With your help, we can reach our goal of $30,000 for the 2022/2023 academic year to make our life-changing programming accessible to all.

The first $7,500 contributed to the Get ‘Em Rolling! campaign will be generously matched by Marcus Partners, essentially doubling incoming support!

So, let’s get these students rolling! Make a donation to the BioBuilder Get ‘Em Rolling! campaign today… and keep young minds rolling toward a bright future!


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