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CU Synthetic Biology Society

CUSBS is a new society that aims to introduce students to the inter-disciplinary field of Synthetic Biology. The European Commission defines Synthetic Biology as "the engineering of biology: the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature. In essence, synthetic biology will enable the design of ‘biological systems’ in a rational and systematic way". As a field, it has the potential to tackle issues as diverse as disease, climate change and food shortages through drug synthesis, biofuel production and crop engineering. The main focus of CUSBS is student-led projects: initially these will be hardware based, looking at developing low-cost, open-source scientific tools for use in research, education and at home. Students from across all STEM subjects will have an opportunity to work in teams to carry out two 6 month projects. These will be fully funded and managed by CUSBS, and will give students hands on experience in DIY-biology. In addition to the projects, CUSBS will hold speaker events and members will have the opportunity to join scientific outreach events in Cambridge. 

2015-16 Projects:

PROJECT 1: - This project centres around developing a microscope for field-use, for example in testing blood and water samples. This project is likely to be carried out with some collaboration with the WaterScope team (developing a water quality testing kit for South Asia). - The requirements for the microscope are that it is robust, easy to use and set-up, and performs a very specific task reliably and effectively. The prototype microscope developed by the 2015 iGEM team will be taken as a starting point, but needs to be significantly modified.

PROJECT 2: - This project centres around high-throughput screening of bacterial colonies and immature plants using a microscope mounted on a desktop CNC machine (a large x,y,z-translation system. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a robot that can screen colonies for a pre-programmed characteristic (e.g. diameter, fluorescence etc.) reliably, and faster than a human. - The requirements for the screening robot are that it must be able to screen relatively large numbers of samples, that different varieties of sample can be used, that new experiments can be programmed in by scientists and that the screening is reliable.

Visit our website  for more information! Or  contact Michael (MJC259).

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