This weekend, 59 teams of undergraduates will be descending on Cambridge, Mass., for the 4th annual International Genetically Engineered Machines competition, aka the linkurl:iGEM Jamoboree.; I'm heading up there tomorrow to blog the event live. The event is a synthetic biology contest that grew out of a short course held at MIT in 2003. Students - mostly undergrads - spend the summer designing and building genetic machines from a standard set of biological parts called "biobricks." Last year's winners, from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, engineered cells that fight sepsis. This year, the Ljubljana team is back, with a synthetic antiviral defense system against HIV. Check in this weekend for updates as the judges poke and prod that project and others, such as learning-enabled E. coli and microbes with metabolisms tweaked to produce biofuels.

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