Feb 26, 2019

International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM)

  • Crimson Education
  • Taiwan
General Advice from Admissions Experts Competition Skill Building


This is a worldwide synthetic biology competition that was initially aimed at undergraduate university students, but has since expanded to include divisions for high school students, entrepreneurs, and community laboratories, as well as 'overgraduates'.

The iGEM competition gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world. Made up of primarily university students, multidisciplinary teams work together to design, build, test, and measure a system of their own design using interchangeable biological parts and standard molecular biology techniques. Every year nearly 6,000 people dedicate their summer to iGEM and then come together in the fall to present their work and compete at the annual Jamboree.

At the annual ‘iGEM Jamboree’ teams from all continents meet in Boston for a scientific conference where they present their projects to each other and to a scientific jury of ~120 judges.

For more information please visit the official website here.

Type of Opportunity

Extracurricular Activity

Age Range

High school students and above, no upper age limit



Each participant receives a participating certificate (see fig. below) and has the possibility to earn medals (bronze, silver and gold; see fig. below) with their team depending on different criteria that the team fulfilled in the competitions.

In each division the best performance in a certain aspect of the competition is honored with special prizes. The special prizes include: 'Best Project' in the respective categories (app. 10 categories), 'Best Art & Design', 'Best Hardware', 'Best Measurement', 'Best Software', 'Best Human Practices', 'Best Model', 'Best New Part', 'Best Poster', 'Best Presentation', 'Best Wiki' and others depending on the competition year.

Together with individual certificates the teams are given glass trophies for each special prize
The judges are awarding medals, special prizes to the teams and select a ‘Grand Prize Winner’ team as well as ‘Runner-Up’ teams in each division (High School, Undergraduate and Overgraduate).

Participation Cost


Registration fee: $5000 + Giant Jamboree(competition attendance) fee: $795 per person (travel cost excluded)

Minimum Technical Skill Needed


Student teams are given a kit (so called ‘Distribution Kit’) of standard, interchangeable parts (so called 'BioBricks') at the beginning of the summer from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts comprising various genetic components such as promoters, terminators, reporter elements, and plasmid backbones. Working at their local laboratories over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells.

The teams are free to choose a project, which can build on previous projects or be new to iGEM. Successful projects produce cells that exhibit new and unusual properties by engineering sets of multiple genes together with mechanisms to regulate their expression.

At the end of the summer the teams add their new BioBricks to the Parts Registry and the scientific community can build upon the expanded set of BioBricks in the next year.

At the Giant Jamboree, each teams are required to make presentations and have poster sessions with Q&A from the judges.

Time Commitment


Teams spend almost a year to plan, carry out, and publish their project. Students need to make a project and perform experiments, as well as serving communities and collaborating with other iGEM teams.

Application Process Includes

1. paying registration fee

2. registering on online website

3. filling out and submitting a participation agreement form