Media Releases

International Synthetic Biology Competition to come to U of T

September 27, 2013

50 teams from United States and Canada will take part

TORONTO, ON – Teams of faculty and students from North American universities will gather at the University of Toronto in a competition to see who has the most novel ideas in the transformative new field of synthetic biology.

Synthetic biologists engineer biology to create tools that may solve some of the world’s most pressing problems in such areas as health care, energy production and environmental degradation.

Each team in the competition has been given a kit of biological parts. Working at their own schools over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. Previous projects in the competition have included Bactoblood in which a team transformed a bacterial cell into a surrogate red blood cell and grew batches of synthetic blood. Such a product could one day be used to grow blood for transfusions in places where there is limited supply such as during military conflicts or natural disasters. Other teams have developed bacterial sensors that are useful for a variety of environmental conditions –  heavy metal contaminations, for example – or to identify the presence of certain parasites.

This year’s participants include teams from Harvard, Berkeley, Carnegie-Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto. The winners will proceed to the World Championship in Cambridge, Massachusetts in November.


WHAT:  Synthetic Biology Competition

WHEN: The finalists will compete on Sunday, October 6, 9 – 10:45 a.m.
Awards presentation 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: MacMillan Theatre, Edward Johnson Building, 80 Queen’s Park



Graham Cromar
416-813-7654 ext. 30-1846

Sergio Peisajovich
Cell & Systems Biology, University of Toronto

Kim Luke
Communications, Faculty of Arts & Science
University of Toronto