Pakistani students bag silver at iGEM 2017

LAHORE: A 12-member team comprising young scientists from Pakistan has bagged a silver medal in the annual International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition held in Boston, United States on Monday.

The team is comprised of young scientists from computer science, biotechnology and engineering disciplines from various areas, including Lahore, Attock, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan.

According to the official press release, the iGEM Peshawar team developed a fish called ‘Reporter Fish’ by building DNA circuits.

‘Reporter Fish’ is able to detect metal-contaminated water by changing the colour of its body to alarm those who are part of the fishing business.

iGEM Peshawar 2017 was also nominated for the Best Biosafety Award at the competition.

For fish farmers, the team also designed and developed a digital interface for the sensor system of the project. A digital sensor system will alarm farmers through a mobile text message if any contaminated water has been detected.

The team was hosted by Institute of Integrative Biosciences (IBB) of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences, Peshawar.

The iGEM Peshawar, which was funded by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government last year, is supervised by IBB department head Dr Faisal Khan.

Out of the 12-member team, seven members left for Boston last week after visa of other members got rejected by the US consulate.

KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak also congratulated the team on their win.

The CM tweeted: Congratulations #TeamPeshawar. Proud of @igem_peshawar who has won a SILVER MEDAL in the International Genetically Engineered Competition bringing pride for whole country. From bronze to silver, we are looking forward for the Gold next time. Good Job.

Last year, Pakistan won the bronze medal.
The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition was a brainchild of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but was later spun out of the varsity as an independent non-profit organisation located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

It is a worldwide synthetic biology competition that was initially aimed at undergraduate university students, but has since expanded to include divisions for high school students, entrepreneurs, and community laboratories, as well as ‘overgraduates’.



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