UK students win sponsorship from Promega Corporation

Promega UK the Life Sciences Company, based on the University of Southampton Science Park in Hampshire, is proud to announce that two UK iGem (The International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation) groups are among 10 international projects to have won sponsorship from Promega Corporation as part of the worldwide iGem competition for up and coming scientists.

Two teams from the University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh will each receive free Promega products to the value of $2,000 to complete their research.

Philip Hargreaves, Head of Strategic Marketing said:

This is a testament to the work being carried out by students at universities in the UK and we are really excited to see what they achieve at the end of their projects and how they reach their results.”

The University of Edinburgh team will be investigating a novel and sustainable use for pot ale, a by-product generated in the production of whisky. The project aims to produce bioplastics, in particular polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) co-polymers of Poly (3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (P3HB-3HV) through utilizing propionate and acetate.

Expensive production costs should be reduced by the team utilizing by-products from whisky distilleries. The project may also benefit the environment, by 'locking' carbon inside the bioplastic in sterile conditions, preventing carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

Craig Gilmour from the University of Edinburgh said:

It’s a really great opportunity to work with the latest technology. iGem also gives the team a great experience as we meet new people, develop project management skills and work with a mix of disciplines, while coming together as a team.”

The Manchester team, will be looking at designing a method of detecting key signal molecules produced by Listeria monocytogenes in infected cheese. Their Listeria detection method is advantageous compared to current methods, with the sensor fully integrated into the cheese-making process, reducing the time contaminated cheese is in factories or homes. The team will be working closely with cheese manufacturers, to ensure their product meets the real needs of the commercial environment.

Ieva Norvaisaite from the University of Manchester added:

We want to thank Promega, as winning this sponsorship has given us much more confidence and freedom in the lab, with more accessibility and less limitations; so we have the ability to carry on with our project in the way we want to.”

iGem is just the beginning of a journey for many of these students, with a mentoring and “After iGem” program available to encourage further career development. There are also PhD clubs but most importantly the iGem program gives students the opportunity to create a real impact and help society as well as looking at commercially driven solutions though biological investigation.

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