#research   #biotech   #machinelearning

Artistic depiction of research students collaborating to advance project with different skillset

Graphic by Natalie Chan


We Are

We are a student-led undergraduate synthetic biology research group based in the University of Toronto. Every year we design and execute a research project and compete with teams from across the world at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) exhibition. iGEM is an international synthetic biology competition open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Each year’s competition begins in January and culminates with the year’s Grand Jamboree expo in October of the same year.

Our current project is focused on the design of a cell-free detection system to detect oak wilt, a fungal disease caused by Bretziella fagacearum.

Our Vision:

Our team’s goal is to protect the oak trees of Ontario by developing a rapid on-site diagnostic that will not only be used for early detection in Ontario, but used by other Canadian provinces and forestry management in states currently suffering from oak wilt. We hope that this easy-to-use device can be widely adopted and its simplicity encourages the development of a suite of rapid tests for a panel of pathogens which threaten our forests. Having devices ready across municipalities, provincial and state parks will allow for real-time monitoring of fungal pathogen spread and prevent another devastating disease of similar magnitude as Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight. The risks of lumber exports can also be properly managed, rather than banning exports altogether, with real-time monitoring of fungal pathogens in the wood.

Image by Jessica Pan

Over 100 talented students from the University of Toronto have already contributed to making our goal possible. In the process, we foster interdisciplinary collaboration and a goal-driven research mindset in our members. With guidance of faculty and PhD students from the University of Toronto, MIT, and Stanford, our three Subteams are dedicated to making this vision a reality. You can support our research by joining us or sponsoring us!



Initial proof of concept

Validation with molecular simulations

Scalable bio-recycling solution

Protein graphics by Natalie Chan

We proudly announce that

Our 2019–2020 project won gold 🏅 and was nominated as the best project in the undergraduate manufacturing track. In 2021, we continued the pursuit towards a highly stable while active enzyme for plastic waste recycling.

This year, we are designing a cell-free detection system to detect oak wilt, a fungal disease caused by Bretziella fagacearum. We will disseminate our results at the Giant Jamboree in Paris and as a preprint for submission to NeurIPS workshops.

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