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A team of undergraduates from Oxford has become the first ever UK team to compete in BIOMOD, an annual, international competition for student research in bionanotechnology.

BIOMOD is a student-driven initiative that offers a complete and unique scientific experience – from brainstorming and planning to executing scientific experiments, followed by presenting this work to peers and non-scientists internationally. From July to September each year undergraduate teams around the world compete by designing and carrying out their own research projects, which are presented at an international "Jamboree" conference in October at UCSF, California, USA. Teams design and build machines and structures out of the basic molecules of life - DNA, RNA and proteins.

The team from Oxford comprised of four undergraduates from Physics, Biochemistry and Medicine: Sam Garforth, Martin Veselý, Hannah Cornwall and Jordy Juritz. For the competition the team designed several new and different types of riboswitch, a genetic switch which can be used to turn genes on and off and so regulate the expression of proteins in the cell. Switches like these could have important applications in medicine, research and biotechnology.

At the BIOMOD Jamboree in San Francisco last week, the Oxford team presented their project to leaders in the field and other student teams from around the world, and achieved Gold status for showing that one of their devices functioned as designed and finishing in the top 50% of teams.

The team received extensive support from industry sponsors, SynBio.Oxford (the Oxford University Society of Synthetic Biology) and the University of Oxford, including MPLS Division. See the full list of sponsors.