Announcing Benchling’s Partnership with iGEM: Empowering the Future of Synthetic Biology

BY Lily Helfrich
May 29, 2019

Early Aspirations: Bioengineering Dragons

At Benchling, we’ve been fortunate to support scientists doing some of the world’s most groundbreaking research—from designing CRISPR experiments and engineering CAR T cells to producing novel biomaterials. Over the years, more than 170,000 scientists have depended on Benchling to design DNA, collaborate on experiments, and manage complex research workflows. Many of these scientists are academics, who were the inspirations for Benchling’s first tools and whom Benchling continues to support today. Our mission has always been to give scientists the cutting-edge tools they need to carry out cutting-edge research, faster.

Location
Pasadena, California
Current Position
Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar, Arnold Lab, Caltech
Educational and Career History
B.A. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & Minor in Chemistry, University of Colorado Boulder; Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Yin Lab, University of Colorado Boulder.
Primary area of research
I evolve enzymes to perform useful chemistry that you don’t find in nature.

To support this mission, we are excited to launch a partnership with the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation. The iGEM Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that, like Benchling, is committed to advancing synthetic biology. iGEM accomplishes this goal through initiatives that foster education, friendly competition, collaboration, and community. Each year, iGEM teams representing academic institutions develop creative, innovative synthetic biology projects and showcase them at the culmination of the iGEM Competition, the Giant Jamboree.

For the 2019 competition season, Benchling is sponsoring the iGEM Foundation and providing our core product, plus exclusive features and training resources, to all iGEM teams. Benchling offers a full suite of Molecular Biology design and analysis tools, an integrated Notebook, and a platform for sharing data, protocols, and sequences.

Where did you grow up?
Parker, Colorado
How do you enjoy spending your time outside of the lab?
I like to do art; mostly painting with acrylics, and some colored pencils. I’ve also done some 3D printing, and I like to play video games.
Can you share a personal fun fact?
I’m an amateur fighter! I practice Muay Thai. People don’t expect it—I’m small and adorable!

Using Benchling, iGEM teams can design sequences–from constructs to CRISPR guides, record observational notes and large datasets, and collaborate on their experiments more efficiently. Rather than spend time searching across different software tools, paper, and spreadsheets for data and DNA sequences, iGEM teams can spend time focusing on what they care about: science.

Noncanonical AAs are found in 12% of the highest-grossing drugs; they’re found in agrochemicals or used as probes for protein studies. With more tools, we’ll be able to explore biology in new ways and to develop new chemistry.

The iGEM Foundation brings together some of the brightest young minds in biology. Past iGEM projects—some of which have been powered by Benchling—have adapted cutting-edge genome engineering methods and developed novel biosensors and biofuels. Over 6,000 students will participate in this year’s iGEM Competition, and many of these students will go on to pursue careers in academic biology or biotech. At Benchling, we have no doubt that iGEM participants will help to shape our future—the medicines we rely on, the food we eat, the fuels that power our lives, and the materials that we use every day. Benchling is proud to support iGEM teams and to work with the iGEM Foundation toward our shared goals of advancing biology and empowering scientists.

If you are on an iGEM team, get started by visiting our iGEM Partner Page.

Published by Lily Helfrich
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