What is iGEM?

The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition brings together students from around the world in a global competition for teams of high school, college, and overgrad students. There are over 300 teams from 6 continents, and each team solves a real-world problem or makes a discovery by using genetic engineering. In the past, our teams have:

  • engineered probiotic bacteria to produce neurotransmitters which would help improve mental health through nutrition rather than pharmaceutical drugs (2021)
  • engineered phytoplankton to survive in low-iron regions of the ocean so that they could increase their absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere (2020)
  • engineered bacteria to keep our guts healthy and resist secondary infections after a round of antibiotics (2019)
  • engineered bacteria to produce a snake venom protein that could be used as first-aid to treat catastrophic bleeding (2018)
  • engineered bacteria to break down plastic that contaminates Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (2016 and 2017)


Being in iGEM has changed my perspective of the world around me. Now, I can use both my passion for science and my community to change my city and the world for the better.
—Mercedes Thompson
Baltimore BioCrew 2016 and 2017
graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic High School and Stanford University