Melbourne’s iGEM team aim to change how we detect stroke

The Centre for Stem Cell Systems congratulates the efforts of the University of Melbourne’s iGEM team, who presented into their project aiming to create an easily accessible and inexpensive way to detect and diagnose stroke at this year’s Jamboree in Boston.

The 2019 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Giant Jamboree was hosted at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston in October. The University of Melbourne iGEM team, hosted by the Centre for Stem Cell Systems, was among 353 world-wide undergraduate student teams and four Australian teams to participate in this year’s competition, championing advancements in synthetic biology.

The University of Melbourne team’s project this year was “Affordable Detection and Monitoring of Stroke (ADAMS)”.

The project aimed to create an easily accessible and inexpensive way to detect and diagnose strokes. The team worked on designing protein chimeras that would allow bacterial surfaces to display mammalian fluorescent detectors for glutamate and GABA. Glutamate and GABA are neurotransmitters that fluctuate in stroke and can be used to detect stroke and monitor patients after stroke to prevent early neurological deterioration (END). For more information on the team’s project:

The team also focused on public engagement to showcase the potential of synthetic biology to solve complex diseases as well as to include the public in discussions about the progression of this frontier area of science. The team used the University of Melbourne’s Open Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of synthetic biology and also to discuss the ethical considerations of scientific research with members of the general public.

The team also hosted a two-day science workshop with the North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House to teach school-age children about science. Overall, the team was able to achieve a working viable project and create an impact within the greater Melbourne community.

The iGEM team received academic and professional leadership and support from Professor Christine Wells, Dr Rosa McCarty and Dr Jessica Walsh from the University of Melbourne, and Professor Ed Stanley from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Thanks to support from the Centre of Stem Cell Systems, the team was able to send a member to Boston. This allowed the team to showcase their project and gain a greater understanding of the competition, helping to refine strategy and set goals for the year to come!

The UniMelb iGEM team would love to thank all their supporters and especially the Centre of Stem Cell Systems for making this journey possible.

iGEM involves students and mentors from a range of research disciplines including biomedical science, engineering, mathematics, computer science & commerce, and we are recruiting for 2020! If you are interested in participating or supporting us, please contact us at

More Information

Melbourne iGEM Team