CAGEN: Critical Assessment of Genetically Engineered Networks
The Competitive Assessment for Genetically Engineered Networks (CAGEN) is a competition intended to drive new approaches to designing robust, synthetic biological circuits. The competition involves teams of established researchers designing circuits that implement a given function and the assessment of their circuit's performance across a set of multiple operating environments.
We propose to develop and prototype a new competition designed to improve the robustness and performance of human-designed biological circuits and devices operating in cells. The Competitive Assessment for Genetically Engineered Networks (CAGEN, pronounced ``cajun) will bring together leading research groups in biological circuit design to compete to demonstrate their abilities at designing circuits that perform in a prescribed manner in a variety of cellular contexts. Each year, a steering committee will propose a challenge problem that involves the design of an increasingly complex set of biological functions in a range of environments. Teams must submit their sequences, plasmid DNA implementing their circuit and data characterizing the performance of their system against a specified test suite. The top 3-5 designs will be submitted to the NSF BIOFAB (run by Adam Arkin and Drew Endy) for final characterization, and the winner will be selected based on a set of quantifiable metrics.
As part of this proposal, we plan to implement one iteration of the competition, including selecting the challenge problem, implementing a set of reference test protocols, announcing and publicizing the competition, implementing the selection process and choosing a winner. If successful, we believe that the competition can be proposed for continued funding from other sources and that over the medium term (5--10 years) CAGEN could lead toward a more robust set of biological design methods that allow human-designed circuits and devices to perform at levels closer to their biological counterparts.
|Jul 2010||First steering committee meeting; selection of draft competition specifications|
|Nov 2010||Refinement of specifications completed; call for participation released|
|Jan 2011||Proposals for team funding/resources due|
|Feb 2011||Selection of proposals for support|
|Nov 2011||Submission deadline and selection of finalists|
|Jun 2012||Workshop for finalists; competition results announced|