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November 6, 2016 9:30 am

Technion Students Win Gold Medal at International Biology Competition

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View of Technion Israel Institute of Technology campus in Haifa. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

View of Technion Israel Institute of Technology campus in Haifa. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org — A team of students from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology recently won the gold medal at an international biology competition, the university’s spokesperson announced Friday.

This was the third consecutive gold for a Technion team at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGem) synthetic biology competition. This year, it was hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Competitors at the annual competition — which includes graduate, undergraduate and high school students — must work in multidisciplinary teams to build genetically engineered systems using standard biological parts, called Biobricks.

Technion’s team of 13 undergraduates invented “Flash Lab,” an innovative chip for fast, accurate and simple detection of various substances. The chip is based on chemotaxis, a natural biological process where bacteria respond to the presence of a specific substance by moving toward or away from it, creating clusters of visible bacteria.

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The students based their invention on E. coli bacteria, which, when loaded onto the chip, reacts to the presence or absence of a particular substance, such as pollutants or heavy metals.

Participating teams are required to submit a research proposal, carry out an independent study, raise the necessary funding and present their results in the finals, according to the spokesperson.

Competitors are also evaluated on their contribution to advancement of science among the general public, for which criteria Technion team members volunteered to participate in science activities for pre-school and kindergarten children and gave scientific lectures at bars, among other activities.

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