Earlier this month the 9th annual iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition took place at MIT, with participants from Universities worldwide. The competition heralds itself as the premiere undergraduate synthetic biology competition. Teams are given a kit of biological parts from the registry of standard biological parts, and they use these precursors along with new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. Results are communicated through posters, webpages, written reports and videos.

The ability of synthetic biologists to be able to accurately visualize and communicate their work is greatly enhanced through use of video animations. For example, the best project in the ‘health and medicine’ category was awarded to the MIT team, who utilized the power of Molecular Maya in 3D to depict their work on tissue self-construction:

The team from UC Berkeley also utilized a 3D animation to depict the function of their project on synthetic biosensors:

These impressive presentations showcase the vast potential of Molecular Maya for use in visualizations of synthetic processes. I imagine that we’ll see an expanded use of such animations in next year’s entries. The entire list of results from the 2011 iGEM World Championship can be found HERE.