Asimov Partners With iGEM to Support the Next Generation of Synthetic Biologists
Asimov to provide iGEM students with access to software, the 2023 iGEM Distribution Kit, genetic device characterization as a service, and a collection of mammalian parts.
BOSTON, Feb. 8, 2023 – Asimov, the synthetic biology company building tools to design living systems, announced today a 2023 partnership with the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) student competition, aimed at advancing the field of synthetic biology. This partnership represents a commitment by Asimov to support the iGEM community and to help build the future of the field.
Through this collaboration, Asimov will provide iGEM teams with the following:
1. Access to Kernel, Asimov’s cloud-based software for genetic design and collaboration
2. Manufacturing and shipping the 2023 iGEM Distribution Kit, which includes hundreds of purified genetic part plasmids and a measurement kit
3. Genetic device characterization as a service at Asimov’s lab in Boston
4. A collection of mammalian genetic parts
“iGEM provides the experience of a lifetime to budding scientists; it's the path by which many synthetic biologists break into the field, myself included,” says Alec Nielsen, Asimov’s CEO and iGEM alumnus. “My life wouldn't be the same if not for iGEM, and I'm proud to have gone from an undergrad team member, to a team mentor, to a Jamboree judge, to a track organizer, and now to a partner through Asimov.”
“Asimov brings a wealth of resources to iGEM, with best-practices for the manufacturing of the iGEM distribution kit and state-of-the art technology in mammalian synthetic biology. They have a deep understanding and commitment to the iGEM community. We are thrilled to welcome Asimov as a partner in creating the future of synthetic biology,” said Vinoo Selvarajah, Director of Technology at iGEM Europe.
Headquartered in Boston, Asimov’s mission is to advance humanity’s ability to design living systems, enabling biotechnologies with outsized societal benefit. The company is developing a synthetic biology platform – from cells to software – to empower genetic designers. For more information, visit www.asimov.com.
The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, and the development of an open, collaborative, and cooperative community. The iGEM competition is the world's largest and most prestigious student competition in synthetic biology. Teams of undergraduate students work together throughout the year to design and build biologically-based projects.
The iGEM Competition is an annual, worldwide synthetic biology event that gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world. Multidisciplinary teams work together to design, build, test, and measure a system of their own design using interchangeable biological parts and standard molecular biology techniques.
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- Virtual Private Network (VPN): Users connect to the cluster, provide some credentials and are then able to access internal tools.
- Single Sign-On: A tool like Kerberos allows you to use the same account across various components.
- Home-grown user accounts: You implement an authentication system and users have a separate username/password for your computing infrastructure.
Asimov, the synthetic biology company building a full-stack platform to program living cells, announced today it has been awarded a contract as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction (ASKE) opportunity.
Through ASKE, Asimov will work to develop a physics-based artificial intelligence (AI) design engine for biology. The goal of the initiative is to improve the reliability of programming complex cellular behaviors.
“To achieve truly predictive engineering of biology, we require dramatic advances in computer-aided design. Machine learning will be critical to bridge genome-scale experimental data with computational models that accurately capture the underlying biophysics. As genetically engineered systems grow in complexity, they become difficult for humans to design and understand. For simple genetic systems with only a couple of genes, synthetic biologists typically use high-throughput screening and basic optimization algorithms. But to engineer more complex applications in health, materials, and manufacturing, we need radically new algorithms to intelligently design the DNA and simulate cell behavior.”
Alec Nielsen, Phd, Asimov CEO
Asimov’s founders previously built a hybrid genetic engineering and computer-aided design platform called Cello to program logic circuit behaviors in cells. The ASKE opportunity will seek to support an ambitious expansion in the types of biological behaviors that can be engineered.
Asimov’s approach will leverage “multi-omics” cellular measurements, structured biological metadata, and novel AI architectures that combine deep learning, reinforcement learning, and mechanistic modeling. Over the past year, the company has ramped up hiring in experimental synthetic biology, machine learning, and data science to accelerate development of their genetic design platform.
DARPA recently announced a multi-year investment of $2B into innovative artificial intelligence research called the AI Next campaign. A part of this wide-ranging AI strategy is DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration program, which was developed to help expeditiously move pioneering AI research from idea to exploration in fewer than 90 days. DARPA’s ASKE opportunity is part of this program and is focused on developing AI technologies that can reason over rich models of complex systems.
“Over the past 50 years, DARPA has been a world leader in spurring innovation across the field of AI, including statistical-learning and rule-based approaches. We are proud to work with DARPA to advance the state-of-the-art in AI-assisted genetic engineering.”
Alec Nielsen, PhD, Asimov CEO