A team of Brown and Stanford students is heading for the world championships of an unusual competition next month in Cambridge, Mass., after winning a gold medal at their regional competition in Pittsburgh Oct. 12-14. The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) is in synthetic biology, the practice of creating and developing “standardized parts” of DNA to instill new capabilities in organisms. The Stanford-Brown team has applied the idea to astrobiology, for instance, by imbuing cells with properties that can help them survive and remain productive in outer space. Brown faculty adviser Gary Wessel said the team worked over the summer with NASA on their projects. “Their work at NASA this summer under the guidance of Professor Lynn Rothschild was wonderfully successful and they will now try to finish yet additional experiments to present at the worlds.” Just before then, on Nov. 2, the team will present on their work at Brown, Wessel said.

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