Baltimore High School Science Team Wins Bronze in International Genetic Engineering Competition

A science team of 15 high schoolers from Baltimore, THE BALTIMORE BIO-CREW, won “Best Presentation” award, and took home an overall Bronze in the annual international genetic engineering competition at MIT; iGEM.  Their research used genetically engineered enzymes from viper venom to induce blood clotting to aid the quick treatment of open wounds.  The motivation for their research was to solve a health crisis that is close to home for many who live in Baltimore; gun violence.

The Baltimore Bio-Crew, is a group of high school students from schools all over Baltimore who met through their love for science, and with the help of a community science lab; the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS).  They met weekly at BUGSS which provides the resources and mentorship for young scientists like these to harness their passion and turn their ideas into real research.  The Bio-Crew is out to seek a better way to help the impoverished neighborhoods that have a severe lack of facilities to treat gunshots or stab wounds in time to save lives.

The accomplishment for this team was not only the recognition by iGEM for their innovative research but their ability to come together as a team and make it to this prestigious competition.  The iGEM competition attracts the brightest scientific teams in Synthetic Biology from across the world.  It also costs $5,000 to enter, $700 each for the Giant Jamboree (a 4 day symposium) and the travel, room and food costs for their time in Boston.  It’s a total cost somewhere around $20,000 all in that had to be raised by the team so they could attend.

The iGEM Competition is an international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology. It started in 2003 as an independent study course at MIT, and has since grown to attract 343 teams, reaching 42 countries and over 5,000 participants at this year’s event.

In 2017, Baltimore suffered from 343 homicides, 301 due to gun violence, many of which were a result of blood loss. As shared on their team page, “As students who live in and around Baltimore City, we knew that this issue needed to be addressed… We realized that lives could be saved with a reliable, cost-efficient blood-clotting alternative to the fibrinogen-laced bandages currently on the market… We hope to help communities in Baltimore by creating more fair and affordable methods of treatment.”

It is somewhat comforting to know that even though 343 people lost their lives due to violence last year in Baltimore, there were 343 teams who competed for better ways to save lives this year at iGEM, including the Baltimore Bio-Crew who represents the best of us in Charm City. Congratulations to the Baltimore Bio-Crew on your accomplishments and your mission to help your community by creating more fair and affordable methods for life-saving treatment.

For more on the Baltimore Bio-Crew you can visit their iGEM team page.


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