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Contest brings out the biohackers

Mix one part enthusiasm, two parts engineering and three parts biology — and you’ve got a recipe for do-it-yourself genetic engineering.

Every November, college kids from Michigan to Munich descend on MIT, eager to show off their biohacking skills. In the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, teams battle one another to build the coolest synthetically altered organisms. If you want to create a microbe that will sniff out and destroy contaminants in mining waste ponds, or a cell that will produce drugs right in your body, iGEM is for you.

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