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Gen9 Announces Winners of Synthetic DNA Contest


By Bio-IT World Staff

November 14, 2012
| Gen9, a developer of scalable technologies for synthesizing and assembling DNA, today announced the five winners of its inaugural G-Prize contest. Collectively, the awardees stand to receive more than 1 million base pairs of DNA manufactured with Gen9’s unique next-generation gene synthesis technology.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company was founded in 2009 by George Church, Drew Endy and Joe Jacobson to create the first true chip-based fabrication (“fab”) capability for the high-throughput, automated production of synthetic DNA. The G-Prize contest was launched to foster creative and innovative approaches for using synthetic DNA to advance industries including chemical and enzyme production, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and data storage.

Contestants submitted applications describing their breakthrough ideas for using gene constructs, and those entries were judged by a panel of experts.

“The proposals for the 2012 G-Prize represent some of the most cutting-edge approaches to using synthetic biology that I have seen, spanning fields as diverse as reprogramming protein interactions, computational design of antibodies, and DNA storage for space exploration,” said Michael Jewett, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University and a G-Prize judge in a press release. “Gen9’s contest truly spurred innovation and will enable these research teams to make critical leaps forward in their projects.”

Joining Professor Jewett on the judging panel were Sri Kosuri of the Wyss Institute at Harvard and Chris Emig of Stanford University.

The winners of the 2012 G-Prize are:

  • 1st place (winning 500 GeneBits, up to 500kb): Tanja Kortemme, University of California, San Francisco, Computer-Aided Design of Sensor/Actuators
  • 2nd place (300 GeneBits, up to 300kb): Sarel Fleishman, Weizmann Institute (Rehovot, Israel), Computational Design of Novel Binding Antibodies: Designing High-Specificity and High-Affinity Insulin Binder
  • 3rd place (100 GeneBits, up to 100kb, two winners): Alfonso Jaramillo, Institute of Systems & Synthetic Biology (Evry, France), Combinatorial Synthesis of RNA Integrated Circuits to Program Living Cells; and Xavier Duportet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Towards the Manipulation of Genomes On-Demand: High Throughput Discovery of New Recombination Sites
  • CEO’s Award (100 GeneBits, up to 100kb): Lynn Rothschild, NASA, DNA Toolkit for Space Exploration
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