Marina Kidisyuk, co-president of the uOttawa International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) program, will be in Boston with the rest of her team presenting their synthetic biology project at The Giant Jamboree.

This year, the team will be creating a tri-stable switch, modelling cell differentiation in yeast that can ultimately lead to improved regenerative therapies using stem cells while the business outreach team will be exploring the fair use of genetic material between industry and academia via a policy paper all the while using art to create a platform for public engagement. 

The uOttawa team typically consist of 20-25 undergraduate students with varying levels of experience, and 3-4 graduate and faculty advisors who work on aspects of one or more specific projects.

“I was always interested in innovative ideas and I saw iGEM as an opportunity to get involved in a project that is pushing the boundaries of future technology. The field of synthetic biology is still relatively new, but I find it exciting that it could hold many sustainable and non-invasive solutions to unanswered environmental and medical problems today,” says Kidisyuk. This is her second year involved in the program.

Marina, having a particular interest towards the biotechnology industry, chose to study at the Telfer School of Management for its focus on innovation and Ottawa’s multitude of biotechnology companies. She enjoys her field of study as she says: “It [Accounting] is the language of business, and business has the power to turn a creative idea into a real world application which can drastically change our future for the better.”

The class that has left the biggest impression on Marina so far has been Business Law with Gilles LeVasseur. “The biggest lesson I learned from him is to plan for and cover every single step in business no matter how trivial you think it is at first, which has served to be invaluable in my experience as someone who is interested in entrepreneurship and intellectual property,” she says.

Marina’s future goals are to bridge the gap between industry and academia. She hopes to be able to connect to students and industry leaders in science so that through collaboration, creative ideas can become reality. She says: “Today biotechnology is at the forefront of leading innovation, and as a business student I want to be involved in making sure that the right inventions can create solutions to unsolved real-world problems.”

Last year, the iGEM uOttawa team received the Silver Medal at the 2014 iGEM Giant Jamboree from among 245 universities world-wide. The Giant Jamboree is taking place at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston from September 24 – 28, 2015.