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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An introduction to BioBricks
by Baker, Andrew, M.A., Roosevelt University, 2010, 71; 1489490
Abstract (Summary)

Synthetic biology is a relatively new discipline with a growing popularity in the research and industrial sectors of science. Decoupling, abstraction, and standardization are the key concepts of synthetic biology and are reinforced in each synthetic biology project produced. Decoupling takes a complex system and breaks it down to its basic components to better understand the system or structure as a whole. Abstraction is a borrowed concept from engineering in which a project can be separated into a hierarchy wherein each level of the hierarchy can work independently of one another to come together in the end and form a finished product. Standardization is the approach to make biological components uniform in their processes and capabilities much like chemicals are controlled by achieving specific standards which are categorized and stated in an alpha numeric system. A basic introduction to synthetic biology and its capabilities is the BioBricks project in which teams of students compete to create new biological components through the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) competition.

The BioBrick program introduces students to real life lab work by taking the methods and theories they have learned in the classroom and applying them to a project of their own design. BioBricks are DNA sequences inserted into a plasmid which express a specific phenotype in a host cell such as E. coli or yeast cells. The standardization of BioBricks allows any student in any lab to recreate previous BioBrick projects. BioBrick base vectors are designed so that a new insert creation automatically follows the BioBrick standards and can join the library of BioBricks. This paper lays out a proposition to pilot the BioBrick program for Roosevelt University by recreating past BioBricks through protocols and materials that all students have access to. This paper includes the protocols and requirements needed to create a BioBrick that has upstream, downstream, and plasmid backbone components common to most BioBricks and will report its successful insertion and transformation of host E. coli strains through GFP and RFP protein expression.

The methods and concepts of synthetic biology are introduced to Roosevelt University as both an educational and research application through this paper. The BioBrick program is capable of fulfilling both the teaching and research aspects of synthetic biology by introducing students to the concepts of synthetic biology as well as reinforcing the lessons they’ve learned in science based classes. The usage of BioBricks as a research tool allows students to create, test, and improve upon BioBricks and BioBrick protocols. The usage of BioBricks as a teaching outlet can get students excited about synthetic biology by exemplifying previous work done in the field as well as work that has been done using BioBricks. Usage of BioBricks introduces the concepts of decoupling, standardization, and abstraction based on how complex the project is and the size of the group working on the BioBricks project. BioBricks projects teach students how to work independently in a lab as well as maintaining their responsibilities within a group setting. Working on a BioBrick project draws from the student’s lecture and laboratory knowledge and prepares them for what it is like to work independently in a lab.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Seiser, Robert
Commitee: Motzny, Cynthia, Wentz-Hunter, Kelly
School: Roosevelt University
Department: Interdisciplinary Studies
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 49/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Molecular biology, Cellular biology, Biochemistry
Keywords: BioBricks, Cloning, DNA recombination, Plasmid, Synthetic biology
Publication Number: 1489490
ISBN: 978-1-124-51359-1
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