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Drake professors receive $12,000 grant for research in synthetic biology

November 18, 2013

The organizers of the National Science Foundation-funded Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT) Synthetic Biology workshop honored two Drake University professors with a $12,000 grant, which will be used to purchase a gel/blot imaging system to back research in the area of synthetic biology.

Heidi Sleister and Jerry E. Honts, associate professors of biology, attended a summer workshop in synthetic biology at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research campus in Ashburn, Va. last June, and will co-teach a January Term course in synthetic biology in 2014. Students will be able to use the new technology to look at and analyze data from experiments.

Synthetic biology is an up-and-coming field of science with various uses connected to medicine, energy, technology, and the environment. It is a combination of biology and engineering, and involves the design and creation of biological tools and systems using typical biological parts, or “bio bricks.” Through the study of synthetic biology, scientists hope to discover the origin of life, and use that information to advance scientific knowledge.